Simultaneous measurement of glucose transport and utilization in the human brain

Alexander A. Shestov, Uzay E. Emir, Anjali Kumar, Pierre-Gilles Henry, Elizabeth R Seaquist, Gulin Oz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Glucose is the primary fuel for brain function, and determining the kinetics of cerebral glucose transport and utilization is critical for quantifying cerebral energy metabolism. The kinetic parameters of cerebral glucose transport, K t M and V t max, in humans have so far been obtained by measuring steady-state brain glucose levels by proton ( 1H) NMR as a function of plasma glucose levels and fitting steady-state models to these data. Extraction of the kinetic parameters for cerebral glucose transport necessitated assuming a constant cerebral metabolic rate of glucose (CMR glc) obtained from other tracer studies, such as 13C NMR. Here we present new methodology to simultaneously obtain kinetic parameters for glucose transport and utilization in the human brain by fitting both dynamic and steady-state 1H NMR data with a reversible, non-steady-state Michaelis-Menten model. Dynamic data were obtained by measuring brain and plasma glucose time courses during glucose infusions to raise and maintain plasma concentration at ~17 mmol/l for ~2 h in five healthy volunteers. Steady-state brain vs. plasma glucose concentrations were taken from literature and the steady-state portions of data from the five volunteers. In addition to providing simultaneous measurements of glucose transport and utilization and obviating assumptions for constant CMR glc, this methodology does not necessitate infusions of expensive or radioactive tracers. Using this new methodology, we found that the maximum transport capacity for glucose through the blood-brain barrier was nearly twofold higher than maximum cerebral glucose utilization. The glucose transport and utilization parameters were consistent with previously published values for human brain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E1040-E1049
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2011


  • Blood-brain barrier
  • Blood-cerebrospinal fluid barrier
  • Magnetic resonance spectroscopy
  • Metabolic modeling


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