Metabolic Alterations in Developing Brain After Injury: Knowns and Unknowns

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46 Scopus citations


Brain development is a highly orchestrated complex process. The developing brain utilizes many substrates including glucose, ketone bodies, lactate, fatty acids and amino acids for energy, cell division and the biosynthesis of nucleotides, proteins and lipids. Metabolism is crucial to provide energy for all cellular processes required for brain development and function including ATP formation, synaptogenesis, synthesis, release and uptake of neurotransmitters, maintaining ionic gradients and redox status, and myelination. The rapidly growing population of infants and children with neurodevelopmental and cognitive impairments and life-long disability resulting from developmental brain injury is a significant public health concern. Brain injury in infants and children can have devastating effects because the injury is superimposed on the high metabolic demands of the developing brain. Acute injury in the pediatric brain can derail, halt or lead to dysregulation of the complex and highly regulated normal developmental processes. This paper provides a brief review of metabolism in developing brain and alterations found clinically and in animal models of developmental brain injury. The metabolic changes observed in three major categories of injury that can result in life-long cognitive and neurological disabilities, including neonatal hypoxia–ischemia, pediatric traumatic brain injury, and brain injury secondary to prematurity are reviewed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2527-2543
Number of pages17
JournalNeurochemical Research
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015


  • Brain energy metabolism
  • C-NMR spectroscopy
  • Development
  • Glucose
  • H-Magnetic resonance spectroscopy
  • Hypoxic–ischemic encephalopathy
  • Ketones
  • Neonatal hypoxia–ischemia
  • Pediatric traumatic brain injury
  • Prematurity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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