Cellular and metabolic origins of flavoprotein autofluorescence in the cerebellar cortex in vivo

Kenneth C. Reinert, Wangcai Gao, Gang Chen, Xinming Wang, Yu Ping Peng, Timothy J. Ebner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Flavoprotein autofluorescence imaging, an intrinsic mitochondrial signal, has proven useful for monitoring neuronal activity. In the cerebellar cortex, parallel fiber stimulation evokes a beam-like response consisting of an initial, short-duration increase in fluorescence (on-beam light phase) followed by a longer duration decrease (on-beam dark phase). Also evoked are parasagittal bands of decreased fluorescence due to molecular layer inhibition. Previous work suggests that the on-beam light phase is due to oxidative metabolism in neurons. The present study further investigated the metabolic and cellular origins of the flavoprotein signal in vivo, testing the hypotheses that the dark phase is mediated by glia activation and the inhibitory bands reflect decreased flavoprotein oxidation and increased glycolysis in neurons. Blocking postsynaptic ionotropic and metabotropic glutamate receptors abolished the onbeam light phase and the parasagittal bands without altering the on-beam dark phase. Adding glutamate transporter blockers reduced the dark phase. Replacing glucose with lactate (or pyruvate) or adding lactate to the bathing media abolished the on-beam dark phase and reduced the inhibitory bands without affecting the light phase. Blocking monocarboxylate transporters eliminated the on-beam dark phase and increased the light phase. These results confirm that the on-beam light phase is due primarily to increased oxidative metabolism in neurons. They also show that the on-beam dark phase involves activation of glycolysis in glia resulting in the generation of lactate that is transferred to neurons. Oxidative savings in neurons contributes to the decrease in fluorescence characterizing the inhibitory bands. These findings provide strong in vivo support for the astrocyte-neuron lactate shuttle hypothesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)585-599
Number of pages15
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We wish to thank Lijuan Zhou for animal preparation, Michael McPhee for graphics, Claudia Hendrix for statistical advice, and Kathy Easthagen and Kris Bettin for manuscript preparation. This work was supported in part by NIH grant R01-NS048944 and a grant from the Bob Allison Ataxia Research Center.


  • Flavoproteins
  • Intrinsic imaging
  • Neurometabolic coupling
  • Oxidative metabolism
  • Parallel fibers


Dive into the research topics of 'Cellular and metabolic origins of flavoprotein autofluorescence in the cerebellar cortex in vivo'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this