An electron microscopic immunogold analysis of developmental up-regulation of the blood-brain barrier GLUT1 glucose transporter

J Cereb Blood Flow Metab. 1993 Sep;13(5):841-54. doi: 10.1038/jcbfm.1993.106.


Electron microscopy was used to quantitate blood-brain barrier (BBB) glucose transporters in newborn, 14-day-old suckling, 28-day-old weanling, and adult rabbits. A rabbit polyclonal antiserum to a synthetic peptide encoding the 13 C-terminal amino acids of the human erythrocyte glucose transporter (GLUT1) was labeled with 10-nm gold particle-secondary antibody conjugates and localized immunoreactive GLUT1 molecules in rabbit brain capillary endothelia. Three distinct populations of brain capillary profiles were identified in newborn rabbits: prepatent capillary buds, partially patent capillaries with highly amplified luminal membranes, and patent capillaries. Immunogold analyses indicated that the GLUT1 transporter abundance positively correlated with capillary developmental status. The mean number of gold particles per capillary profile increased at each developmental age examined, suggesting that developmental up-regulation of the BBB glucose transporter occurred in rabbits. GLUT1 immunoreactivity was three- to fourfold greater on the abluminal than luminal capillary membranes among all ages examined. Changes in the proportions of GLUT1 transporter were also seen, and possible reasons for the postnatal decrease in the percentage of cytoplasmic GLUT1 transporter are discussed. The numbers of cytoplasmic and membrane-associated immunogold particles increased with age. We conclude that regulatory modulations of BB glucose transport may be characterized by increases in BBB glucose transporter density with age and state of development. In addition, modulation of glucose transporter activity may be reflected by minor postnatal shifts of GLUT1 from cytoplasmic to membrane compartments, which can be demonstrated 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

  • Aging / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Animals, Suckling
  • Blood-Brain Barrier*
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation
  • Endothelium, Vascular / growth & development
  • Endothelium, Vascular / metabolism
  • Female
  • Glucose Transporter Type 1
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Monosaccharide Transport Proteins / metabolism*
  • Rabbits
  • Subcellular Fractions / metabolism
  • Tissue Distribution
  • Weaning


  • Glucose Transporter Type 1
  • Monosaccharide Transport Proteins