Linking neuronal brain activity to the glucose metabolism


Background Energy homeostasis ensures the functionality of the entire organism. The human brain as a missing link in the global regulation of the complex whole body energy metabolism is subject to recent investigation. The goal of this study is to gain insight into the influence of neuronal brain activity on cerebral and peripheral energy metabolism. In particular, the tight link between brain energy supply and metabolic responses of the organism is of interest. We aim to identifying regulatory elements of the human brain in the whole body energy homeostasis. Methods First, we introduce a general mathematical model describing the human whole body energy metabolism. It takes into account the two central roles of the brain in terms of energy metabolism. The brain is considered as energy consumer as well as regulatory instance. Secondly, we validate our mathematical model by experimental data. Cerebral high-energy phosphate content and peripheral glucose metabolism are measured in healthy men upon neuronal activation induced by transcranial direct current stimulation versus sham stimulation. By parameter estimation we identify model parameters that provide insight into underlying neurophysiological processes. Identified parameters reveal effects of neuronal activity on regulatory mechanisms of systemic glucose metabolism. Results Our examinations support the view that the brain increases its glucose supply upon neuronal activation. The results indicate that the brain supplies itself with energy according to its needs, and preeminence of cerebral energy supply is reflected. This mechanism ensures balanced cerebral energy homeostasis. Conclusions The hypothesis of the central role of the brain in whole body energy homeostasis as active controller is supported.

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