Cell-specific localization of monocarboxylate transporters, MCT1 and MCT2, in the adult mouse brain revealed by double immunohistochemical labeling and confocal microscopy.
Recent evidence suggests that lactate could be a preferential energy substrate transferred from astrocytes to neurons. This would imply the presence of specific transporters for lactate on both cell types. We have investigated the immunohistochemical localization of two monocarboxylate transporters, MCT1 and MCT2, in the adult mouse brain. Using specific antibodies raised against MCT1 and MCT2, we found strong immunoreactivity for each transporter in glia limitans, ependymocytes and several microvessel-like elements. In addition, small processes distributed throughout the cerebral parenchyma were immunolabeled for monocarboxylate transporters. Double immunofluorescent labeling and confocal microscopy examination of these small processes revealed no co-localization between glial fibrillary acidic protein and monocarboxylate transporters, although many glial fibrillary acidic protein-positive processes were often in close apposition to elements labeled for monocarboxylate transporters. In contrast, several elements expressing the S100beta protein, another astrocytic marker found to be located in distinct parts of the same cell when compared with glial fibrillary acidic protein, were also strongly immunoreactive for MCT1, suggesting expression of this transporter by astrocytes. In contrast, MCT2 was expressed in a small subset of microtubule-associated protein-2-positive elements, indicating a neuronal localization. In conclusion, these observations are consistent with the possibility that lactate, produced and released by astrocytes (via MCT1), could be taken up (via MCT2) and used by neurons as an energy substrate.