KAUST Research Workshop on Innovative Technologies to Study Brain Energy Metabolism
Brain energy metabolism is altered in most neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders not to mention ischemic conditions and stroke. It is also at the basis of functional brain imaging techniques that detect signals of metabolic or vascular origin. It is therefore crucial to understand the cellular and molecular basis of brain energy metabolism to assess its relevance for information processing, for brain disorders and for the development of novel therapeutic targets.
Over the last few years there has been a major increase in interest in the role of glial cells in brain function and in particular in regulating energy metabolism. A proposed function of glial cells, and in particular astrocytes, is to respond to neuronal signals and provide adequate energetic support to active neurons. Recent advances in imaging techniques have begun to provide in vivo, evidences with a cellular resolution supporting this function. Furthermore astrocyte-derived energy substrates such as lactate have been shown in vivo to be necessary for memory consolidation. Interestingly converging evidence indicates that dysfunction of energy metabolism is observed in several neuropsychiatric disorders such as depression, and in neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. Not surprisingly, functional brain imaging has contributed to the visualization of such metabolic dysfunctions in neuropsychiatric diseases, since imaging techniques such as PET and fMRI detect signals that are metabolic and vascular in origin. The workshop will bring together scientists active in high resolution imaging with experts in neuroenergetics to advance the understating on the cellular determinants of brain energy metabolism.
Most experimental evidence gathered so far concerning brain energy metabolism and in particular neuron-glia metabolic coupling is indirect, relying on cell culture data or in vitro preparations lacking cellular resolution thus entertaining a certain degree of controversy in the field. The workshop will review new data obtained with high resolution in vivo imaging techniques that provide novel insights on the cellular mechanisms of brain energy metabolism relevant to physiological functions and pathological conditions.
Metabolic coupling between glia and neurons is key to brain function. The workshop will focus on novel data based obtained with advanced imaging techniques, including the use of genetically-encoded cell-specific nanosensors in vivo and 3D full immersion virtual reality imaging of electron microscopy data that provide novel insights, with unprecedented cellular and subcellular resolution, on metabolic trafficking between brain cells.