The human brain GLUT1 glucose transporter: ultrastructural localization to the blood-brain barrier endothelia

J Cereb Blood Flow Metab. 1994 Jan;14(1):106-12. doi: 10.1038/jcbfm.1994.15.


Immunogold electron microscopy was used to examine human brain resections to localize the GLUT1 glucose transporter. The tissue examined was obtained from a patient undergoing surgery for treatment of seizures, and the capillary profiles examined had characteristics identical to those described previously for active, epileptogenic sites (confirmed by EEG analyses). A rabbit polyclonal antiserum to the full-length human erythrocyte glucose transporter (GLUT1) was labeled with 10-nm gold particle-secondary antibody conjugates and localized immunoreactive GLUT1 molecules in human brain capillary endothelia, with < 0.25% of the particles beyond the capillary profile. Erythrocyte membranes were also highly immunoreactive, whereas macrophage membranes were GLUT1-negative. The number of immunoreactive sites per capillary profile was observed to be 10-fold greater in humans than in previous studies of rat and rabbit brain capillaries. In addition, half of the total number of immunoreactive gold particles were localized to the luminal capillary membrane. We suggest that the blood-brain barrier GLUT1 glucose transporter is up-regulated in seizures, and this elevated transporter activity is characterized by increased GLUT1 transporters, particularly on the luminal capillary membranes. In addition, acute modulation of glucose transporter activity is presumed to involve translocation of GLUT1 from cytoplasmic to luminal membrane sites, demonstrable with quantitative immunogold electron microscopy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Blood-Brain Barrier*
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Brain / ultrastructure
  • Capillaries / metabolism
  • Capillaries / ultrastructure
  • Endothelium, Vascular / metabolism*
  • Endothelium, Vascular / ultrastructure
  • Epilepsy / metabolism
  • Epilepsy / pathology
  • Erythrocyte Membrane / metabolism
  • Glucose Transporter Type 1
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Monosaccharide Transport Proteins / metabolism*
  • Tissue Distribution


  • Glucose Transporter Type 1
  • Monosaccharide Transport Proteins
  • SLC2A1 protein, human