Anemari Horvat, Nina Vardjan* and Robert Zorec* Pages 4969 - 4978 ( 10 )
There are at least three reasons why brain astrocytes represent a new target for treating neurological disorders. First, although the human neocortex represents over 80% of brain mass, neurons are outnumbered by non-neuronal cells, including astrocytes, a neuroglial cell type. Second, as in neurons, vesicle-based release of transmitters is present in astrocytes, however with much slower kinetics than in neurons. Third, astrocytes contain glycogen, which can be transformed to L-lactate in glycolysis. L-lactate is considered to be a fuel and a signalling molecule involved in cognition and neuroprotection. The mechanisms of neuroprotection are unclear but may be linked to carbon monoxide, a product of the heme oxygenase, an evolutionarily conserved cellular cytoprotectant. Increased levels of local carbon monoxide arising from heme oxygenase activity may increase L-lactate, but direct measurements of cytosolic L-lactate are lacking. A fluorescence resonance energy transfer-based nanosensor selective for L-lactate was used to monitor cytosolic levels of L-lactate while cultured astrocytes were exposed to carbon monoxide. The results revealed that in astrocytes exposed to carbon monoxide there is no significant increase in L-lactate, however, when noradrenaline, a potent glycogenolytic agent, is applied, cytosolic levels of Llactate are increased, but strongly attenuated in astrocytes pretreated with carbon monoxide. These first measurements of carbon monoxide-modulated L-lactate levels in astrocytes provide evidence that the L-lactate and heme oxygenase neuroprotective systems may interact. In conclusion, not only the abundance of astrocytes but their signalling capacity using vesicles and metabolites, such as L-lactate, are valid targets for neurological disorders.
Astrocytes, L-lactate, D-glucose, cAMP, vesicles, signalling, carbon monoxide.
Faculty of Medicine, University of Ljubljana, Institute of Pathophysiology, LN-MCP, 1000 Ljubljana, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ljubljana, Institute of Pathophysiology, LN-MCP, 1000 Ljubljana, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ljubljana, Institute of Pathophysiology, LN-MCP, 1000 Ljubljana