To view an abstract, select an author from the vertical list on the left.
2006 Grant - Dienel
Astrocytic Metabolite Trafficking and Brain Imaging in an Alzheimer Mouse Model
Gerald A. Dienel, Ph.D.
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
2006 Investigator-Initiated Research Grant
Astrocytes, the "helper" cells of the brain, play an important role in energy production. When the body breaks down sugar, the brain's main source of energy, it converts some of the sugar into lactate and other compounds called metabolites. Astrocytes help remove many of these compounds to prevent them from interfering with vital brain functions. One way the cells accomplish this is by transporting metabolites from one astrocyte to another through pores called gap junctions. Eventually, the compounds are released into blood or other body fluids.
Alzheimer brains, however, appear to produce excessive amounts of lactate and other metabolites, making the job of astrocytes harder. Many scientists believe that the process of metabolite transportation by astrocytes becomes abnormal in Alzheimer's disease, potentially affecting energy production and other vital functions of the brain.
Gerald A. Dienel, Ph.D., and colleagues propose to test this hypothesis. For their study, they will use imaging technology that can capture signals indicating how well the brain is regulating the production of energy and the flow of nutrients to cells. The investigators will produce and analyze brain scans of mice genetically altered to develop an Alzheimer-like pathology. The study's results could shed new light on how astrocytes affect energy production in the brain and may provide valuable new tools for interpreting brain images that track changes in energy production during Alzheimer's disease.