Updates to a 13C metabolic flux analysis model for evaluating energy metabolism in cultured cerebellar granule neurons from neonatal rats

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A hexose phosphate recycling model previously developed to infer fluxes through the major glucose consuming pathways in cultured cerebellar granule neurons (CGNs) from neonatal rats metabolizing [1,2–13C2]glucose was revised by considering reverse flux through the non-oxidative pentose phosphate pathway (PPP) and symmetrical succinate oxidation within the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle. The model adjusts three flux ratios to effect 13C distribution in the hexose, pentose, and triose phosphate pools, and in TCA cycle malate to minimize the error between predicted and measured 13C labeling in exported lactate (i.e., unlabeled, single-, double-, and triple-labeled; M, M1, M2, and M3, respectively). Inclusion of reverse non-oxidative PPP flux substantially increased the number of calculations but ultimately had relatively minor effects on the labeling of glycolytic metabolites. From the error-minimized solution in which the predicted M-M3 lactate differed by 0.49% from that measured by liquid chromatography-triple quadrupole mass spectrometry, the neurons exhibited negligible forward non-oxidative PPP flux. Thus, no glucose was used by the pentose cycle despite explicit consideration of hexose phosphate recycling. Mitochondria consumed only 16% of glucose while 45% was exported as lactate by aerobic glycolysis. The remaining 39% of glucose was shunted to pentose phosphates presumably for de novo nucleotide synthesis, but the proportion metabolized through the oxidative PPP vs. the reverse non-oxidative PPP could not be determined. The lactate exported as M1 (2.5%) and M3 (1.2%) was attributed to malic enzyme, which was responsible for 7.8% of pyruvate production (vs. 92.2% by glycolysis). The updated model is more broadly applicable to different cell types by considering bi-directional flux through the non-oxidative PPP. Its application to cultured neurons utilizing glucose as the sole exogenous substrate has demonstrated substantial oxygen-independent glucose utilization by aerobic glycolysis as well as the oxidative PPP and/or reverse non-oxidative PPP, but negligible glucose consumption by the pentose cycle.HighlightsReverse non-oxidative PPP flux was incorporated in a13C metabolic flux model.The model was applied to cerebellar granule neurons from neonatal rat brains.The oxidative and reverse non-oxidative PPP consumed 39% of the glucose.Glucose consumption by the pentose cycle was negligible.The updated model offers advantages to assessing pathway fluxes.

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