Glutamate increases glycogen content and reduces glucose utilization in primary astrocyte culture

Raymond A. Swanson, Albert C H Yu, Pak H. Chan, Frank R Sharp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Scopus citations


The glycogen content of primary cultured astrocytes was approximately doubled by incubation with 1 mM L-glutamate or L-aspartate. Other amino acids and excitatory neurotransmitters were without effect. The increase in glycogen level was not blocked by the glutamate receptor antagonist kynurenic acid but was completely blocked by the glutamate uptake inhibitor threo-3-hydroxy-D,L-aspartate and by removal of Na+ from the medium. Incubation with radiolabeled glucose and glutamate revealed that the increased glycogen content was derived almost entirely from glucose. Glutamate at 1 mM was also found to cause a 53 ± 12% decrease in glucose utilization and a 112 ± 69% increase in glucose-6-phosphate levels. These results suggest that the glycogen content of astrocytes is linked to the rate of glucose utilization and that glucose utilization can, in turn, be affected by the availability of alternative metabolic substrates. These relationships suggest a mechanism by which brain glycogen accumulation occurs during decreased neuronal activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)490-496
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Neurochemistry
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1990
Externally publishedYes


  • 2-Deoxyglucose
  • Aspartate
  • Excitatory amino acid
  • Glia
  • Glucose-6-phosphate
  • Methionine sulfoxi-mine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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