Neurochemical Research

, Volume 35, Issue 10, pp 1635–1642

Neurons and Neuronal Stem Cells Survive in Glucose-Free Lactate and in High Glucose Cell Culture Medium During Normoxia and Anoxia

  • Sascha Wohnsland
  • Heinrich F. Bürgers
  • Wolfgang Kuschinsky
  • Martin H. Maurer

DOI: 10.1007/s11064-010-0224-1

Cite this article as:
Wohnsland, S., Bürgers, H.F., Kuschinsky, W. et al. Neurochem Res (2010) 35: 1635. doi:10.1007/s11064-010-0224-1


Several questions concerning the survival of isolated neurons and neuronal stem and progenitor cells (NPCs) have not been answered in the past: (1) If lactate is discussed as a major physiological substrate of neurons, do neurons and NPCs survive in a glucose-free lactate environment? (2) If elevated levels of glucose are detrimental to neuronal survival during ischemia, do high concentrations of glucose (up to 40 mmol/L) damage neurons and NPCs? (3) Which is the detrimental factor in oxygen glucose deprivation (OGD), lack of oxygen, lack of glucose, or the combination of both? Therefore, in the present study, we exposed rat cortical neurons and NPCs to different concentrations of d-glucose ranging from 0 to 40 mmol/L, or 10 and 20 mmol/L l-lactate under normoxic and anoxic conditions, as well as in OGD. After 24 h, we measured cellular viability by biochemical assays and automated cytochemical morphometry, pH values, bicarbonate, lactate and glucose concentrations in the cell culture media, and caspases activities. We found that (1) neurons and NPCs survived in a glucose-free lactate environment at least up to 24 h, (2) high glucose concentrations >5 mmol/L had no effect on cell viability, and (3) cell viability was reduced in normoxic glucose deprivation to 50% compared to 10 mmol/L glucose, whereas cell viability in OGD did not differ from that in anoxia with lactate which reduced cell viability to 30%. Total caspases activities were increased in the anoxic glucose groups only. Our data indicate that (1) neurons and NPCs can survive with lactate as exclusive metabolic substrate, (2) the viability of isolated neurons and NPCs is not impaired by high glucose concentrations during normoxia or anoxia, and (3) in OGD, low glucose concentrations, but not low oxygen levels are detrimental for neurons and NPCs.


Neural stem cellsNeural progenitor cellsRat brainLactate metabolismHypoxiaNeuron



Astrocyte-neuron lactate shuttle hypothesis


Glucose transporter protein


Monocarboxylate transporter protein


Neuronal progenitor cell


Oxygen glucose deprivation

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sascha Wohnsland
    • 1
  • Heinrich F. Bürgers
    • 1
    • 2
  • Wolfgang Kuschinsky
    • 1
  • Martin H. Maurer
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Physiology and PathophysiologyUniversity of HeidelbergHeidelbergGermany
  2. 2.TissueGnostics GmbHViennaAustria