Astrocytes generate ATP through glycolysis and mitochondrion respiration, using glucose, lactate, fatty acids, amino acids, and ketone bodies as metabolic fuels. Astrocytic mitochondria also participate in neuronal redox homeostasis and neurotransmitter recycling. In this essay, we aim to integrate the multifaceted evidence about astrocyte bioenergetics at the cellular and systems levels, with a focus on mitochondrial oxidation. At the cellular level, the use of fatty acid β-oxidation and the existence of molecular switches for the selection of metabolic mode and fuels are examined. At the systems level, we discuss energy audits of astrocytes and how astrocytic Ca2+ signaling might contribute to the higher performance and lower energy consumption of the brain as compared to engineered circuits. We finish by examining the neural-circuit dysregulation and behavior impairment associated with alterations of astrocytic mitochondria. We conclude that astrocytes may contribute to brain energy efficiency by coupling energy, redox, and computational homeostasis in neural circuits.

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