—(1) The fate of (U‐14C)leucine was studied in rat brain in vivo from birth to five weeks of age. The major route of leucine metabolism at all ages was conversion into protein. The rate of protein synthesis was low in the newborn; it reached a peak at about 15 days and slowed down moderately later. Incorporation into brain lipids was relatively low under the experimental conditions (less than 2 per cent of the total tissue 14C). (2) The conversion of leucine‐carbon into amino acids associated with the tricarboxylic acid cycle was low in the first 9 days after birth (less than 4 per cent of the acid‐soluble 14C at 10 min after injection) and increased rapidly until 15 days when the level characteristic of the adult was approached (about 20 per cent of the acid‐soluble 14C). The results indicated that the oxidation of acetyl‐CoA derived from leucine reached the adult level at an earlier age than that derived from glucose. (3) The glutamine/glutamate specific radioactivity ratio was 0·3 in the brain of newborn animals and increased progressively; it was 1·3 and 2·4 at 15 and 35 days of age respectively. The specific radioactivity of aspartate and of GABA relative to that of glutamate was less than 1 throughout the experimental period. (4) The factors involved in the development of metabolic compartmentation in brain were analysed. It is proposed that although the experimental results show that a 'small’compartment becomes functionally manifested with maturation the primary cause is the development of the‘large’metabolic compartment. (5) Morphological correlates of the metabolic compartments in brain tissue are suggested and it is concluded that the manifestation of metabolic compartmentation is related to maturational changes in glia‐neuronal relations rather than to developmental processes affecting the individual components only.
Journal of Neurochemistry – Wiley
Published: Jul 1, 1970
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