, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp 130-140

Fructose metabolism in the cerebellum

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Under normal physiological conditions, the brain utilizes only a small number of carbon sources for energy. Recently, there is growing molecular and biochemical evidence that other carbon sources, including fructose, may play a role in neuroenergetics. Fructose is the number one commercial sweetener in Western civilization with large amounts of fructose being toxic, yet fructose metabolism remains relatively poorly characterized. Fructose is purportedly metabolizedvia either of two pathways, the fructose-1-phosphate pathway and/or the fructose-6-phosphate pathway. Many early metabolic studies could not clearly discriminate which of these two pathways predominates, nor could they distinguish which cell types in various tissues are capable of fructose metabolism. In addition, the lack of good physiological models, the diet-induced changes in gene expression in many tissues, the involvement of multiple genes in multiple pathways involved in fructose metabolism, and the lack of characterization of some genes involved in fructose metabolism have complicated our understanding of the physiological role of fructose in neuro-energetics. A recent neuro-metabolism study of the cerebellum demonstrated fructose metabolism and co-expression of the genes specific for the fructose 1-phosphate pathway, GLUT5 (glut5) and ketohexokinase (khk), in Purkinje cells suggesting this as an active pathway in specific neurons? Meanwhile, concern over the rapid increase in dietary fructose, particularly among children, has increased awareness about how fructose is metabolizedin vivo and what effects a high fructose diet might have. In this regard, establishment of cellular and molecular studies and physiological characterization of the important and/or deleterious roles fructose plays in the brain is critical. This review will discuss the status of fructose metabolism in the brain with special reference to the cerebellum and the physiological roles of the different pathways.