Neurons rely on glucose rather than astrocytic lactate during stimulation

J Neurosci Res. 2019 Aug;97(8):883-889. doi: 10.1002/jnr.24374. Epub 2018 Dec 21.


Brain metabolism increases during stimulation, but this increase does not affect all energy metabolism equally. Briefly after stimulation, there is a local increase in cerebral blood flow and in glucose uptake, but a smaller increase in oxygen uptake. This indicates that temporarily the rate of glycolysis is faster than the rate of oxidative metabolism, with a corresponding temporary increase in lactate production. This minireview discusses the long-standing controversy about which cell type, neurons or astrocytes, are involved in this increased aerobic glycolysis. Recent biosensor studies measuring metabolic changes in neurons, in acute brain slices or in vivo, are placed in the context of other data bearing on this question. The most direct measurements indicate that, although both neurons and astrocytes may increase glycolysis after stimulation, neurons do not rely on import of astrocytic-produced lactate, and instead they increase their own glycolytic rate and become net exporters of lactate. This temporary increase in neuronal glycolysis may provide rapid energy to meet the acute energy demands of neurons.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Astrocytes / metabolism*
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Glucose / metabolism*
  • Glycolysis
  • Humans
  • Lactic Acid / metabolism*
  • Neurons / metabolism*


  • Lactic Acid
  • Glucose