Acetate, a glial-specific substrate, is an attractive alternative to glucose for the study of neuronal-glial interactions. The present study investigates the kinetics of acetate uptake and utilization in the rat brain in vivo during infusion of [2-13C]acetate using NMR spectroscopy. When plasma acetate concentration was increased, the rate of brain acetate utilization (CMRace) increased progressively and reached close to saturation for plasma acetate concentration > 2-3 mM, whereas brain acetate concentration continued to increase. The Michaelis-Menten constant for brain acetate utilization (= 0.01 ± 0.14 mM) was much smaller than for acetate transport through the blood-brain barrier (BBB) (= 4.18 ± 0.83 mM). The maximum transport capacity of acetate through the BBB (= 0.96 ± 0.18 μmol/g/min) was nearly twofold higher than the maximum rate of brain acetate utilization (= 0.50 ± 0.08 μmol/g/min). We conclude that, under our experimental conditions, brain acetate utilization is saturated when plasma acetate concentrations increase above 2-3 mM. At such high plasma acetate concentration, the rate-limiting step for glial acetate metabolism is not the BBB, but occurs after entry of acetate into the brain.
- NMR spectroscopy