Study Shows Why the Brain Consumes A lot of Energy

Scientists published a study in the Science Advanced journal titled Synaptic Vesicle Pool Are a Major Hidden Resting Metabolic Burden of Nerve Terminals. The scientists found vehicles with messages that the brain transmitted between cells. These vesicles appeared to be leaking with energy. Researchers believed this was a trade-off for the brain’s ability to fire without warning.

 The brain uses a lot of energy

According to a professor of biochemistry at Weill Cornell Medicine and mead study author, Timothy Ryan, the brain is the most expensive organ to operate as it consumes a lot of energy.

 Scientists previously thought the energy consumption was due to its electrical activity as the neurons constantly fire to communicate. This process uses a lot of adenosine 5’-triphosphate (ATP), an energy molecule.

Despite this, newer studies have shown that the brain still consumes a lot of energy when propel are in negative states even though they have little neuronal activity.

Professor Ryan has been studying synapses for years. Synapses are brain junctions where neurons send neurotransmitters to communicate with each other. His team found that synapses used a lot of energy. However, they conducted another study where they inactivated these junctions with a toxin in rat synapses. They found that the synapses used more energy than the neurons.

Proton pumps used 44% of energy

The researchers also found that proton pumps accounted for nearly 44% of energy consumption in resting synapses. Moreover, the proton pumps were forced to work and burn ATP as the vesicles leaked protons.

The inactive neurotransmitters pre-packed neurotransmitters in the vesicles immediately to launch them. They did this through pumps on the vesicles’ surface. The pump, transporter retain, altered its shape according to neurotransmitters inside. In addition, it took protons in the vesicles, altered their shale, and expelled them from the vesicle.

Vesicles have to have a high consideration of protons inside them than those outside for this process. Nevertheless, the transport proteins continued to alter their shape when the vesicles were full despite not taking any neurotransmitters inside.

Professor concluded that while these leakages were small, they accumulated into more considerable losses that became inefficient for the brain.

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