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Abstract

—Fructose levels were determined in plasma and brain of 8- to 12-day-old mice at intervals after the injection of 30 mmol/kg intraperitoneally; controls received NaCl, 15 mmol/kg. In normal animals brain fructose increased very slowly despite a rapid rise in plasma levels (120 times the control value in 5 min). At 40 min the cerebral level was 1.54 ± 0.23 mmol/kg; the corresponding plasma level was 47.1 ± 4.8 mM. The data suggest that fructose can serve as a source of energy to the brain in times of critical need: during insulin hypoglycemia brain fructose increased to only 0.88 ± 0.05 mmol/kg during the same interval (40 min) despite plasma fructose values equal to those in control animals; also 30 s after cerebral ischemia (decapitation) brain fructose fell from a zero time value of 1.19 ± 0.09 mmol/kg (20 min after fructose injection) to 0.76 ± 0.06 mmol/kg (P= 0.005). Under both circumstances (hypoglycemia and ischemie anoxia) an apparent threshold concentration of fructose for utilization was observed—0.6–0.7 mmol/kg. The most likely explanation for this finding appears to be that this level of fructose was in the extracellular space of the brain. Hexokinase activity in brain homogenates of 8- to 12-day-old mice with fructose and ATP at concentrations found in vivo and during ischemie anoxia did not appear to be rate-limiting. We concluded that the major handicap to the use of fructose by the brain was the limited penetration of fructose from the blood to the brain.