Similar increases in extracellular lactic acid in the limbic system during epileptic and/or olfactory stimulation

F. Fornai, L. Bassi, M. Gesi, F. S. Giorgi, R. Guerrini, I. Bonaccorsi, M. G. Alessandrì

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Previous studies have shown that physiological stimulation of brain activity increases anaerobic glucose consumption, both in humans and in experimental animals. To investigate this phenomenon further, we measured extracellular lactate levels within different rat brain regions, using microdialysis. Experiments were performed comparing the effects of natural, physiological olfactory stimulation of the limbic system with experimental limbic seizures. Olfactory stimulation was carried out by using different odors (i.e. both conventional odors: 2-isobutyl-3-methoxypyrazine, green pepper essence; thymol; and 2-sec-butylthiazoline, a sexual pheromone). Limbic seizures were either induced by systemic injection of pilocarpine (200-400 mg/kg) or focally elicited by microinfusions of chemoconvulsants (bicuculline 118 pmol and cychlothiazide 1.2 nmol) within the anterior piriform cortex. Seizures induced by systemic pilocarpine tripled lactic acid within the hippocampus, whereas limbic seizures elicited by focal microinfusion of chemoconvulsants within the piriform cortex produced a less pronounced increase in extracellular lactic acid. Increases in extracellular lactate occurring during olfactory stimulation with the sexual pheromone (three times the baseline levels) were non-significantly different from those occurring after systemic pilocarpine. Increases in lactic acid following natural olfactory stimulation were abolished both by olfactory bulbectomy and by the focal microinfusion of tetrodotoxin, while they were significantly attenuated by the local application of the N-methyl-D-aspartate antagonist AP-5. Increases in hippocampal lactate induced by short-lasting stimuli (olfactory stimulation or microinfusion of subthreshold doses of chemoconvulsants, bicuculline 30 pmol) were reproducible after a short delay (1 h) and cumulated when applied sequentially. In contrast, limbic status epilepticus led to a long-lasting refractoriness to additional lactate-raising stimuli and there was no further increase in lactate levels when the olfactory stimulation was produced during status epilepticus. Increases in lactic acid following olfactory stimulation occurred with site specificity in the rhinencephalon (hippocampus, piriform and entorhinal cortex) but not in the dorsal striatum. Site specificity crucially relied on the quality of the stimulus. For instance, other natural stimuli (i.e. tail pinch) produced a similar increase in extracellular lactate in all brain areas under investigation.The major conclusion of this work is that the presentation of an odor known to be a rat pheromone results in lactate production as great as that induced by the systemic convulsant pylocarpine (maximum: 2.286±0.195 mM and 1.803±0.108 mM, respectively). This supports the notion that the great magnitude of lactate production known to accompany seizures can result from the intensified neural activity per se ('aerobic gycolysis'), not merely from local anoxia or other pathological changes. Copyright (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Ltd.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)447-458
Number of pages12
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2000


  • Hippocampus
  • Limbic seizures
  • Odors
  • Pheromone
  • Piriform cortex
  • Tactic acid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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