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The energetics of CNS white matter

Harris, JJ; Attwell, D; (2012) The energetics of CNS white matter. Journal of Neuroscience , 32 (1) 356 - 371. Green open access

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Abstract

The energetics of CNS white matter are poorly understood. We derive a signaling energy budget for the white matter (based on data from the rodent optic nerve and corpus callosum) which can be compared with previous energy budgets for the gray matter regions of the brain, perform a cost-benefit analysis of the energetics of myelination, and assess mechanisms for energy production and glucose supply in myelinated axons. We show that white matter synapses consume ≤0.5% of the energy of gray matter synapses and that this, rather than more energy-efficient action potentials, is the main reason why CNS white matter uses less energy than gray matter. Surprisingly, while the energetic cost of building myelin could be repaid within months by the reduced ATP cost of neuronal action potentials, the energetic cost of maintaining the oligodendrocyte resting potential usually outweighs the saving on action potentials. Thus, although it dramatically speeds action potential propagation, myelination need not save energy. Finally, we show that mitochondria in optic nerve axons could sustain measured firing rates with a plausible density of glucose transporters in the nodal membrane, without the need for energy transfer from oligodendrocytes.

Type: Article
Title: The energetics of CNS white matter
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. The license allows you to copy, distribute, and transmit the work, as well as adapting it. However, you must attribute the work to the author (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work), and cannot use the work for commercial purposes without prior permission of the author. If you alter or build upon this work, you can distribute the resulting work only under the same or similar license to this one. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, 444 Castro Street, Suite 900, Mountain View, California, 94041, USA.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences > Neuro, Physiology and Pharmacology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1340392
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