Glucose metabolism links astroglial mitochondria to cannabinoid effects

Nature. 2020 Jul;583(7817):603-608. doi: 10.1038/s41586-020-2470-y. Epub 2020 Jul 8.

Abstract

Astrocytes take up glucose from the bloodstream to provide energy to the brain, thereby allowing neuronal activity and behavioural responses1-5. By contrast, astrocytes are under neuronal control through specific neurotransmitter receptors5-7. However, whether the activation of astroglial receptors can directly regulate cellular glucose metabolism to eventually modulate behavioural responses is unclear. Here we show that activation of mouse astroglial type-1 cannabinoid receptors associated with mitochondrial membranes (mtCB1) hampers the metabolism of glucose and the production of lactate in the brain, resulting in altered neuronal functions and, in turn, impaired behavioural responses in social interaction assays. Specifically, activation of astroglial mtCB1 receptors reduces the phosphorylation of the mitochondrial complex I subunit NDUFS4, which decreases the stability and activity of complex I. This leads to a reduction in the generation of reactive oxygen species by astrocytes and affects the glycolytic production of lactate through the hypoxia-inducible factor 1 pathway, eventually resulting in neuronal redox stress and impairment of behavioural responses in social interaction assays. Genetic and pharmacological correction of each of these effects abolishes the effect of cannabinoid treatment on the observed behaviour. These findings suggest that mtCB1 receptor signalling can directly regulate astroglial glucose metabolism to fine-tune neuronal activity and behaviour in mice.