Influence of severe hypoglycemia on mitochondrial and plasma membrane function in rat brain

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Abstract: Previous experiments have shown that severe hypoglycemia disrupts cerebral energy state in spite of a maintained cerebral oxygen consumption, suggesting uncoupling of oxidative phosphorylation. Other studies have demonstrated that hypoglycemia leads to loss of cerebral cortical phospholipids and phospholipid-bound fatty acids. The objective of the present study was, therefore, to study respiratory characteristics of brain mitochondria during severe hypoglycemia and to correlate respiratory activity to mitochondrial phospholipid composition. Mitochondria were isolated after 30 or 60 min of hypoglycemia with ceased EEG activity, and after a 90-min recovery period, and their resting (state 4) and ADP-stimulated (state 3) oxygen consumption rates and phospholipids and phospholipid-bound fatty acid content were measured. After 30 min of hypoglycemia, state 3 respiration decreased without any increase in state 4 respiration or change in ADP/O ratio. This decrease, which occurred with glutamate plus malate—but not with succinate—as substrates, was partly reversed by addition of bovine serum albumin and KCI. Chemical analyses of isolated mitochondria did not reveal changes in their phospholipid or fatty acid content. The results thus failed to account for the dissociation of cerebral energy state and oxygen consumption. It is emphasized, though, that uncoupling may well occur in vivo due to accumulation of free fatty acids and "futile cycling" of K+ and Ca2+. After 60 min of hypoglycemia, a moderate decrease in state 3 respiration was observed also with succinate as substrate, and there was some decrease in ADP/O ratios in KCI-containing media. However, the changes in ADP/O ratios were more conspicuous during recovery; in addition, state 4 respiration increased significantly. It is concluded that changes in mitochondrial function after 30 min of hypoglycemia are potentially reversible but that true mitochondrial failure develops in the recovery period following 60 min of hypoglycemia. This conclusion was corroborated by results demonstrating incomplete recovery of cerebral energy state. Since EEG and sensory evoked potentials return after 30 min but not after 60 min of hypoglycemia it seemed difficult to explain failure of return of electrophysiological function after 60 min of hypoglycemia solely by mitochondrial dysfunction; plasma membrane function was therefore assessed by measurements of extracellular potassium activity ([K+]e). The results showed that whereas [K+]e remained close to control in the recovery period following 30 min of hypoglycemia it rose progressively during recovery following 60 min of hypoglycemia. Possibly, inhibition of Na+ K+–activated ATPase could contribute to the permanent loss of spontaneous or evoked electrical activity.


  • Carl-David Agardh
  • A G Chapman
  • D Pelligrino
  • Bo Siesjö
Enheter & grupper

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ) – OBLIGATORISK

  • Neurovetenskaper


Sidor (från-till)662-668
TidskriftJournal of Neurochemistry
Utgåva nummer3
StatusPublished - 1982
Peer review utfördJa