Ultrastructural localization of GLUT 1 and GLUT 3 glucose transporters in rat brain

R. L. Leino, D. Z. Gerhart, A. M. Van Bueren, A. L. McCall, Lester R Drewes

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129 Scopus citations


Precise localization of glucose transport proteins in tile brain has proved difficult, especially at the ultra-structural level. This has limited further insights into their cellular specificity, subcellular distribution, and function. In the present study, preembedding ultra-structural immunocytochemistry was used to localize the major brain glucose transporters, GLUTs 1 and 3, in vibratome sections of rat brain. Our results support the view that, besides being present in endothelial cells of central nervous system (CNS) blood vessels, GLUT 1 is present in astrocytes. GLUT I was detected in astrocytic end feet around blood vessels, and in astrocytic cell bodies and processes in both gray and white matter. GLUT 3, the neuronal glucose transporter, was located primarily in pre- and postsynaptic nerve endings and in small neuronal processes. This study: (1) affirms that GLUT 3 is neuron-specific, (2) shows that GLUT I is not normally expressed in detectable quantities by neurons, (3) suggests that glucose is readily available for synaptic energy metabolism based on the high concentration of GLUT 3 in membranes of synaptic terminals, and (4) demonstrates significant intracellular and mitochondrial localization of glucose transport proteins.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)617-626
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Neuroscience Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 1997


  • Brain
  • Electron microscopy
  • GLUT 1
  • GLUT 3
  • Immunocytochemistry


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