The development of several key enzymes of pyruvate and 3-hydroxybutyrate metabolism and of the tricarboxylic acid cycle was studied in six regions (cerebellum, medulla oblongata and pons, hypothalamus, striatum, mid-brain and cortex) of the neonatal, suckling and adult rat brain (2 days before birth to 60 days after birth). The enzymes whose developmental patterns were studied were: pyruvate dehydrogenase (EC 1.2.4.1), 3-hydroxybutyrate dehydrogenase (EC 1.1.1.30), citrate synthase (EC 4.1.3.7), NAD-linked isocitrate dehydrogenase (EC 1.1.1.41) and fumarase (EC 4.2.1.2). Citrate synthase, isocitrate dehydrogenase and pyruvate dehydrogenase develop as a cluster in each region, although the pyruvate dehydrogenase appears to lag slightly behind the others. As with the glycolytic-enzyme cluster [Leong & Clark (1984) Biochem. J. 218, 131-138] the timing of the development of the activity of this group of enzymes varies from region to region; 50% of the adult activity developed first in the medulla oblongata, followed by the hypothalamus, striatum and mid-brain, and then in the cortex and cerebellum respectively. The 3-hydroxybutyrate dehydrogenase activity also develops earlier in the medulla oblongata than in the other regions. The results are discussed with respect to the neurophylogenetic development of the brain regions studied and the importance of the development of the enzymes of aerobic glycolysis in relationship to the development of neurological maturation.

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