Lactate Storm Marks Cerebral Metabolism following Brain Trauma [Neurobiology]

May 21st, 2014 by Lama, S., Auer, R. N., Tyson, R., Gallagher, C. N., Tomanek, B., Sutherland, G. R.

Brain metabolism is thought to be maintained by neuronal-glial metabolic coupling. Glia take up glutamate from the synaptic cleft for conversion into glutamine, triggering glial glycolysis and lactate production. This lactate is shuttled into neurons and further metabolized. The origin and role of lactate in severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) remains controversial. Using a modified weight drop model of severe TBI and magnetic resonance (MR) spectroscopy with infusion of 13C labeled glucose, lactate and acetate, the present study investigated the possibility that neuronal-glial metabolism is uncoupled following severe TBI. Histopathology of the model showed severe brain injury with subarachnoid and hemorrhage together with glial cell activation and positive staining for tau at 90 min post trauma. High resolution MR spectroscopy of brain metabolites revealed significant labeling of lactate at C-3 and C-2 irrespective of the infused substrates. Increased 13C labeled lactate in all study groups in the absence of ischemia, implied activated astrocytic glycolysis and production of lactate with failure of neuronal uptake; i.e. a loss of glial sensing for glutamate. The early increase in extracellular lactate in severe TBI with the injured neurons rendered unable to pick it up, likely contributes to a rapid progression towards irreversible injury and pan-necrosis. Hence, a method to detect and scavenge the excess extracellular lactate on site or early following severe TBI may be a potential primary therapeutic measure