Regional brain glucose use was measured in rats with streptozotocin-induced diabetes (65 mg/kg intravenously) of 1 or 4 weeks duration, by using [6-14C]glucose and quantitative autoradiography. The concentrations of several metabolites were measured in plasma and brain. Results were compared with those from normal untreated rats. Glucose concentrations were increased in both plasma and brain, to similar degrees in both diabetic groups. Plasma ketone-body concentrations were 0.25, 1.0, and 3.15 mumol/ml in the control, 1-week and 4-week groups respectively (sum of acetoacetate and 3-hydroxybutyrate). Glucose use was increased throughout the brain (differences were statistically significant in 55 of 59 brain areas) after 1 week of diabetes, with an increase of 25% for the brain as a whole. In contrast, normal rates were found throughout the brain after 4 weeks of diabetes. None of the brain areas was affected significantly differently from the others, in either diabetic group. There was no significant loss of 14C as lactate or pyruvate during the experimental period, nor was there any indication of net production of lactate in any of the groups. Other methodological considerations that could have affected the results obtained in the diabetic rats were likewise ruled out. Because the ketone bodies are expected to supplement glucose as a metabolic fuel for the brain, our results indicate that brain energy consumption is increased during streptozotocin-diabetes.

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