Even though the brain makes up about two percent of the body it consumes up to 20% of the energy needed to power through the day. Just how neurons and mitochondria, the powerhouse of the cell, generate energy is the latest research that employs special imaging technique to view the process.
Mice helped researchers at the University of Rochester Center for Translational Neuromedicine look at how neurons and mitochondria work in concert to keep the brain powered up. Before the mitochondria get to the energy production step, it has to have a little lactate. Specialized cells called astrocytes harness glucose, convert it to lactate and send it to the neurons and mitochondria, or so it was thought.
Using molecular imaging called 2-photon microscopy, researchers were able to look at the energy exchange in the brain of mice and found that it was the neurons, not astrocytes that take in the most glucose and produce lactate. Lactate and neuronal metabolism has been associated with neurodegenerative disease and seizures.
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