Neuronal control of astrocytic respiration through a variant of the Crabtree effect
Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2018-01-29; 115(7): 1623-1628
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Aerobic glycolysis is a phenomenon that in the long term contributes to synaptic formation and growth, is reduced by normal aging, and correlates with amyloid beta deposition. Aerobic glycolysis starts within seconds of neural activity and it is not obvious why energetic efficiency should be compromised precisely when energy demand is highest. Using genetically encoded FRET nanosensors and real-time oxygen measurements in culture and in hippocampal slices, we show here that astrocytes respond to physiological extracellular K+ with an acute rise in cytosolic ATP and a parallel inhibition of oxygen consumption, explained by glycolytic stimulation via the Na+-bicarbonate cotransporter NBCe1. This control of mitochondrial respiration via glycolysis modulation is reminiscent of a phenomenon previously described in proliferating cells, known as the Crabtree effect. Fast brain aerobic glycolysis may be interpreted as a strategy whereby neurons manipulate neighboring astrocytes to obtain oxygen, thus maximizing information processing.