Endogenous substrates utilized by rat brain in severe insulin-induced hypoglycemia

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Several previous studies have demonstrated that severe hypoglycemia is accompanied by consumption of endogenous brain substrates (glycolytic and citric acid cycle metabolites and free amino acids) and some have shown a loss of structural components as well, notably phospholipids. In the present study, on paralysed and artificially ventilated rats, we measured cerebral oxygen and glucose consumption during 30 min of hypoglycemic coma (defined as hypoglycemia of sufficient severity to cause cessation of spontaneous EEG activity) and calculated the non-glucose oxygen consumption. In an attempt to estimate the missing substrate we measured tissue concentrations of phospholipids and RNA.

After 5 min of hypoglycemic coma, tissue phospholipid content decreased by about 8% with no further change during the subsequent 55 min. A similar reduction remained after 90 min of recovery, induced by glucose administration following 30 min of coma. Since no preferential loss of polyenoic fatty acids or of ethanolamine phosphoglycerides occurred, it is concluded that loss of phospholipids was due to phospholipase activity rather than to peroxidative degradation. The free fatty acid concentration increased sixfold after 5 min of coma and remained elevated during the course of hypoglycemia. A 9% reduction in tissue RNA content was observed after 30 min of hypoglycemia.

Calculations indicated that available endogenous carbohydrate and amino acid substrates were essentially consumed after 5 min of coma, and that other non-glucose substrates must have accounted for approximately 50μmol·g−1 of oxygen (8.3 μmol·g−1 in terms of glucose equivalents) within the 5–30 min period. The 10% reduction in phospholipid-bound fatty acids was more than sufficient (in four- to fivefold excess) to account for this oxygen consumption. However, since no further degradation occurred in the 5–30 min period, there is no simple, direct, quantitative relationship between oxygen consumption and cortical fatty acid oxidation during this interval. The possibility thus remains that unmeasured exogenous or endogenous substrates were utilized.


  • Carl-David Agardh
  • Astrid G Chapman
  • Bengt Nilsson
  • Bo Siesjö
Enheter & grupper

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ) – OBLIGATORISK

  • Neurovetenskaper


Sidor (från-till)490-500
TidskriftJournal of Neurochemistry
Utgåva nummer2
StatusPublished - 1981
Peer review utfördJa