Distribution of the monocarboxylate transporter MCT2 in human cerebral cortex: an immunohistochemical study
The monocarboxylate transporter MCT2 belongs to a large family of membrane proteins involved in the transport of lactate, pyruvate and ketone bodies. Although its expression in rodent brain has been well documented, the presence of MCT2 in the human brain has been questioned on the basis of low mRNA abundance. In this study, the distribution of the monocarboxylate transporter MCT2 has been investigated in the cortex of normal adult human brain using an immunohistochemical approach. Widespread neuropil staining in all cortical layers was observed by light microscopy. Such a distribution was very similar in three different cortical areas investigated. At the cellular level, the expression of MCT2 could be observed in a large number of neurons, in fibers both in grey and white matter, as well as in some astrocytes, mostly localized in layer I and in the white matter. Double staining experiments combined with confocal microscopy confirmed the neuronal expression but also suggested a preferential postsynaptic localization of synaptic MCT2 expression. A few astrocytes in the grey matter appeared to exhibit MCT2 labelling but at low levels. Electron microscopy revealed strong MCT2 expression at asymmetric synapses in the postsynaptic density and also within the spine head but not in the presynaptic terminal. These data not only demonstrate neuronal MCT2 expression in human, but since a portion of it exhibits a distinct synaptic localization, it further supports a putative role for MCT2 in adjustment of energy supply to levels of activity.