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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Metabolomic profiling reveals a role for CPT1c in neuronal oxidative metabolism

Jieun Lee and Michael J Wolfgang*

Author Affiliations

Department of Biological Chemistry, Center for Metabolism and Obesity Research, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, 21205, USA

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BMC Biochemistry 2012, 13:23  doi:10.1186/1471-2091-13-23

Published: 25 October 2012

Abstract

Background

Carnitine Palmitoyltransferase-1c (CPT1c) is a neuron specific homologue of the carnitine acyltransferase family of enzymes. CPT1 isoenzymes transfer long chain acyl groups to carnitine. This constitutes a rate setting step for mitochondrial fatty acid beta-oxidation by facilitating the initial step in acyl transfer to the mitochondrial matrix. In general, neurons do not heavily utilize fatty acids for bioenergetic needs and definitive enzymatic activity has been unable to be demonstrated for CPT1c. Although there are studies suggesting an enzymatic role of CPT1c, its role in neurochemistry remains elusive.

Results

In order to better understand how CPT1c functions in neural metabolism, we performed unbiased metabolomic profiling on wild-type (WT) and CPT1c knockout (KO) mouse brains. Consistent with the notion that CPT1c is not involved in fatty acid beta-oxidation, there were no changes in metabolites associated with fatty acid oxidation. Endocannabinoids were suppressed in the CPT1c KO, which may explain the suppression of food intake seen in CPT1c KO mice. Although products of beta-oxidation were unchanged, small changes in carnitine and carnitine metabolites were observed. Finally, we observed changes in redox homeostasis including a greater than 2-fold increase in oxidized glutathione. This indicates that CPT1c may play a role in neural oxidative metabolism.

Conclusions

Steady-state metabolomic analysis of CPT1c WT and KO mouse brains identified a small number of metabolites that differed between CPT1c WT and KO mice. The subtle changes in a broad range of metabolites in vivo indicate that CPT1c does not play a significant or required role in fatty acid oxidation; however, it could play an alternative role in neuronal oxidative metabolism.