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Science 305 (5680): 99-103

Copyright © 2004 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Neural Activity Triggers Neuronal Oxidative Metabolism Followed by Astrocytic Glycolysis

Karl A. Kasischke,1 Harshad D. Vishwasrao,1 Patricia J. Fisher,2 Warren R. Zipfel,1 Watt W. Webb1*

Abstract: We have found that two-photon fluorescence imaging of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NADH) provides the sensitivity and spatial three-dimensional resolution to resolve metabolic signatures in processes of astrocytes and neurons deep in highly scattering brain tissue slices. This functional imaging reveals spatiotemporal partitioning of glycolytic and oxidative metabolism between astrocytes and neurons during focal neural activity that establishes a unifying hypothesis for neurometabolic coupling in which early oxidative metabolism in neurons is eventually sustained by late activation of the astrocyte-neuron lactate shuttle. Our model integrates existing views of brain energy metabolism and is in accord with known macroscopic physiological changes in vivo.

1 School of Applied and Engineering Physics, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA.
2 Department of Biomedical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA.

* To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: www2{at}

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