hey could follow to see if the lactate molecule had produced carbon dioxide, the natural byproduct of lactate after use by the brain as fuel.
“Our preliminary tracer-based studies demonstrated the novel and unexpected finding of both lactate uptake and its utilization as fuel in traumatic brain injury,” Glenn said. “These results have led us to challenge the current conventional wisdom concerning the type of fuel the brain uses after injury to generate the energy for recovery."
They suspect that following injury the brain may not be able to use glucose because of dysfunction and because the glucose is diverted to other metabolic pathways for other uses. And, Glenn noted, using glucose requires more than 10 enzymatic steps before it generates energy, while lactate requires much fewer steps, making it, under these circumstances, a faster and more efficient source of fuel.
The researchers will seek 20 to 30 additional brain-traumatized patients over the next two years to further confirm their hypothesis, which will require receiving the approval of a patient’s family before proceeding. It’s a delicate and diplomatic effort under such conditions, and Glenn is grateful that people understand that the bottom line is to improve care after a traumatic brain injury.
“If we can confirm our hypotheses by these studies,” said Glenn, “these concepts would force a reconsideration of the standard use of glucose solutions as the foundation for metabolic/nutritional support to the brain in the intensive care unit.”
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