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Hyperglycemia accentuates the injury produced by anoxia both in the central and peripheral nervous system. To understand whether this is a consequence of changes in metabolic pathways produced by anoxia, the effect of the metabolic substrate used by the rat peripheral nerve on the nerve action potential (NAP) was studied in the presence and absence of anoxia. In the continuously oxygenated state, the NAP was well preserved with glucose, lactate, as well as with high concentrations of sorbitol and fructose but not β-hydroxybutyrate, acetate or galactose. With intermittent anoxia, the pattern of substrate effects on the NAP changed markedly so that low concentrations of fructose became able to support neurophysiologic activity but not high concentrations of glucose. These alterations occurred gradually with repeated episodes of anoxia as reflected by the progressive increase in the time needed for the NAP to disappear during anoxia when using glucose as substrate. This "preconditioning" effect was not seen with other substrates and an opposite effect was seen with lactate. In fact, the rate at which the NAP disappeared during anoxia was not simply related to degree of recovery after anoxia. These are distinct phenomena. For example, the NAP persisted longest during anoxia in the setting of hyperglycemia but this was the state in which the anoxic damage was most severe. Correlating the results with existing literature on the metabolic functions of Schwann cells and axons generates testable hypotheses for the mechanism of hyperglycemic damage during anoxia and lead to discussions of the role for a metabolic shuttle between Schwann cells and axons as well as a potential important role of glycogen. Copyright © 2014 IBRO. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


M M Stecker, M R Stevenson. Anoxia-induced changes in optimal substrate for peripheral nerve. Neuroscience. 2015 Jan 22;284:653-67

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PMID: 25451283

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