Steady-state cerebral glucose concentrations and transport in the human brain

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Understanding the mechanism of brain glucose transport across the blood- brain barrier is of importance to understanding brain energy metabolism. The specific kinetics of glucose transport nave been generally described using standard Michaelis-Menten kinetics. These models predict that the steady- state glucose concentration approaches an upper limit in the human brain when the plasma glucose level is well above the Michaelis-Menten constant for half-maximal transport, K(t). In experiments where steady-state plasma glucose content was varied from 4 to 30 mM, the brain glucose level was a linear function of plasma glucose concentration. At plasma concentrations nearing 30 mM, the brain glucose level approached 9 mM, which was significantly higher than predicted from the previously reported K(t) of ~4 mM (p < 0.05). The high brain glucose concentration measured in the human brain suggests that ablumenal brain glucose may compete with lumenal glucose for transport. We developed a model based on a reversible Michaelis-Menten kinetic formulation of unidirectional transport rates. Fitting this model to brain glucose level as a function of plasma glucose level gave a substantially lower K(t) of 0.6 ± 2.0 mM, which was consistent with the previously reported millimolar K(m) of GLUT-1 in erythrocyte model systems. Previously reported and reanalyzed quantification provided consistent kinetic parameters. We conclude that cerebral glucose transport is most consistently described when using reversible Michaelis-Menten kinetics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)397-408
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Neurochemistry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1998


  • Glucose transport
  • Human
  • In vivo studies
  • NMR
  • Spectroscopy


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