The present outline of astrocytic metabolic pathways involved in glucose and amino acid metabolism provides detailed information about the enzymatic pathways involved, as well as a description of the basic properties of the enzymes including regulatory mechanisms. Hence, the glycolytic pathway and glycogen metabolism are outlined, followed by a detailed account of pyruvate oxidation and its role as a substrate for the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle. Moreover, a detailed description of the main enzymes involved in glutamate metabolism is provided and the role of the glutamate-glutamine cycle is explained. Since this text is primarily covering astrocytic metabolism, an emphasis has been placed on a discussion of the significance of the astrocyte specific enzymes pyruvate carboxylase and glutamine synthetase, which enable these cells to perform a net synthesis of glutamine, the precursor for synthesis of glutamate and ?-aminobutyrate (GABA), the main neurotransmitters of the brain.
With this, we have underlined the fundamental importance of astrocytic metabolism for neuronal function with a particular emphasis on the fact that, without continuous support from the astrocytic partners in synaptic function, glutamatergic and GABAergic neurotransmission would not be possible. It is thought provoking that these neurotransmission processes, which account for the vast majority of synaptic activity in the brain, have been made totally dependent on astrocytic metabolic support, particularly with regard to replenishment of the respective neurotransmitters.
* Introduction of Glia* Metabolism of Glia* Concluding Remarks* References* Author Biographies