Endurance and Brain Glycogen: A Clue Toward Understanding Central Fatigue

Takashi Matsui, Mariko Soya, Hideaki Soya

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

11 Citations (Scopus)


Brain glycogen stored in astrocytes produces lactate as a neuronal energy source transported by monocarboxylate transporters (MCTs) to maintain neuronal functions, such as hippocampus-regulated memory formation. Although exercise activates brain neurons, the role of astrocytic glycogen in the brain during exercise remains unknown. Since muscle glycogen fuels active muscles during exercise, we hypothesized that astrocytic glycogen plays an energetic role in the brain during exercise to maintain endurance capacity through lactate transport. To explore this hypothesis, we have used a rat model of prolonged exercise, microwave irradiation for the accurate detection of brain glycogen, capillary electrophoresis-mass spectrometry-based metabolomics, and inhibitors of glycogenolysis (1,4-dideoxy-1,4-imino-d-arabinitol; DAB) and lactate transport (α-cyano-4-hydroxycinnamate; 4-CIN). During prolonged exhaustive exercise, muscle glycogen was depleted and brain glycogen decreased when associated with decreased blood glucose levels and increased serotonergic activity known as central fatigue factors, suggesting brain glycogen decrease as an integrative factor for central fatigue. Prolonged exhaustive exercise also increased MCT2 protein in the brain, which takes up lactate in neurons, just as muscle MCTs are increased. Metabolomics revealed that brain but not muscle adenosine triphosphate (ATP) was maintained with lactate and other glycogenolytic and glycolytic sources. Intracerebroventricular (icv) injection of DAB suppressed brain lactate production and decreased hippocampal ATP levels at exhaustion. An icv injection of 4-CIN also decreased hippocampal ATP, resulting in lower endurance capacity. Our findings provide direct evidence that astrocytic glycogen-derived lactate fuels the brain to maintain endurance capacity during exhaustive exercise. Brain ATP levels maintained by glycogen might serve as a possible defense mechanism for neurons in the exhausted state.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdvances in Neurobiology
PublisherSpringer New York LLC
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameAdvances in Neurobiology
ISSN (Print)2190-5215
ISSN (Electronic)2190-5223

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Neurology
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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