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Neuron-astrocyte metabolic coupling during neuronal stimulation protects against fatty acid toxicity

By Maria S. Ioannou, Jesse Jackson, Shu-Hsein Sheu, Chi-Lun Chang, Aubrey V. Weigel, Hui Liu, H. Amalia Pasolli, C. Shan Xu, Song Pang, Harald Hess, Jennifer Lippincott-Schwartz, Zhe Liu

Posted 07 Nov 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/465237

Metabolic coordination between neurons and astrocytes is critical for the health of the brain. However, neuron-astrocyte coupling of lipid metabolism, particularly in response to neural activity, remains largely uncharacterized. Here, we demonstrate that toxic, peroxidated fatty acids (FAs) produced in hyperactive neurons are transferred to astrocytic lipid droplets by lipoprotein particles. Astrocytes consume the FAs stored in lipid droplets via mitochondrial β-oxidation in response to neuronal activity and turn on a detoxification gene expression program. Together, our findings reveal that FA metabolism between neurons and astrocytes is coupled in an activity-dependent manner to protect neurons from FA toxicity. This coordinated mechanism for metabolizing FAs could underlie both homeostasis and a variety of disease states of the brain.

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