GSEA of mouse and human mitochondriomes reveals fatty acid oxidation in astrocytes

Abel Eraso-Pichot, Marina Brasó-Vives, Arantxa Golbano, Carmen Menacho, Enrique Claro, Elena Galea, Roser Masgrau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)
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© 2018 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. The prevalent view in neuroenergetics is that glucose is the main brain fuel, with neurons being mostly oxidative and astrocytes glycolytic. Evidence supporting that astrocyte mitochondria are functional has been overlooked. Here we sought to determine what is unique about astrocyte mitochondria by performing unbiased statistical comparisons of the mitochondriome in astrocytes and neurons. Using MitoCarta, a compendium of mitochondrial proteins, together with transcriptomes of mouse neurons and astrocytes, we generated cell-specific databases of nuclear genes encoding for mitochondrion proteins, ranked according to relative expression. Standard and in-house Gene Set Enrichment Analyses (GSEA) of five mouse transcriptomes revealed that genes encoding for enzymes involved in fatty acid oxidation (FAO) and amino acid catabolism are consistently more expressed in astrocytes than in neurons. FAO and oxidative-metabolism-related genes are also up-regulated in human cortical astrocytes versus the whole cortex, and in adult astrocytes versus fetal astrocytes. We thus present the first evidence of FAO in human astrocytes. Further, as shown in vitro, FAO coexists with glycolysis in astrocytes and is inhibited by glutamate. Altogether, these analyses provide arguments against the glucose-centered view of energy metabolism in astrocytes and reveal mitochondria as specialized organelles in these cells.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1724-1735
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2018


  • metabolism
  • mitochondria
  • neurons
  • transcriptome


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