Increased glucose metabolism and impaired glutamate transport in human astrocytes are potential early triggers of abnormal extracellular glutamate accumulation in hiPSC-derived models of Alzheimer's disease

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Glutamate recycling between neurons and astrocytes is essential to maintain neurotransmitter homeostasis. Disturbances in glutamate homeostasis, resulting in excitotoxicity and neuronal death, have been described as a potential mechanism in Alzheimer's disease (AD) pathophysiology. However, glutamate neurotransmitter metabolism in different human brain cells, particularly astrocytes, has been poorly investigated at the early stages of AD. We sought to investigate glucose and glutamate metabolism in AD by employing human induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC)-derived astrocytes and neurons carrying mutations in the amyloid precursor protein (APP) or presenilin-1 (PSEN-1) gene as found in familial types of AD (fAD). Methods such as live-cell bioenergetics and metabolic mapping using [13C]-enriched substrates were used to examine metabolism in the early stages of AD. Our results revealed greater glycolysis and glucose oxidative metabolism in astrocytes and neurons with APP or PSEN-1 mutations, accompanied by an elevated glutamate synthesis compared to control WT cells. Astrocytes with APP or PSEN-1 mutations exhibited reduced expression of the excitatory amino acid transporter 2 (EAAT2), and glutamine uptake increased in mutated neurons, with enhanced glutamate release specifically in neurons with a PSEN-1 mutation. These results demonstrate a hypermetabolic phenotype in astrocytes with fAD mutations possibly linked to toxic glutamate accumulation. Our findings further identify metabolic imbalances that may occur in the early phases of AD pathophysiology.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Neurochemistry
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)822-840
Publication statusPublished - 2024

Bibliographical note

This article is part of the special issue “ 14th International Conference on Brain Energy Metabolism: Energy Substrates and Microbiome Govern Brain Bioenergetics and Cognitive Function with Aging”.

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