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Gilbert, Erin; Tang, J Michael; Ludvig, Nandor; Bergold, Peter J
"Elevated lactate suppresses neuronal firing in vivo and inhibits glucose metabolism in hippocampal slice cultures"
Brain research 2006 Oct 30; 1117(1):213-223
Glucose is well accepted as the major fuel for neuronal activity, while it remains controversial whether lactate also supports neural activity. In hippocampal slice cultures, synaptic transmission supported by glucose was reversibly suppressed by lactate. To test whether lactate had a similar inhibitory effect in vivo, lactate was perfused into the hippocampi of unanesthetized rats while recording the firing of nearby pyramidal cells. Lactate perfusion suppressed pyramidal cell firing by 87.5+/-8.3% (n=6). Firing suppression was slow in onset and fully reversible and was associated with increased lactate concentration at the site of the recording electrode. In vivo suppression of neural activity by lactate occurred in the presence of glucose; therefore we tested whether suppression of neural firing was due to lactate interference with glucose metabolism. Competition between glucose and lactate was measured in hippocampal slice cultures. Lactate had no effect on glucose uptake. Lactate suppressed glucose oxidation when applied at an elevated, pathological concentration (10 mM), but not at its physiological concentration (1 mM). Pyruvate (10 mM) also inhibited glucose oxidation but was significantly less effective than lactate. The greater suppressive effect of lactate as compared to pyruvate suggests that alteration of the NAD(+)/NADH ratio underlies the suppression of glucose oxidation by lactate. ATP in slice culture was unchanged in glucose (1 mM), but significantly reduced in lactate (1 mM). ATP in slice culture was significantly increased by combination of glucose (1 mM) and lactate (1 mM). These data suggest that alteration of redox ratio underlies the suppression of neural discharge and glucose metabolism by lactate

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