Purpose: Besides being actively metabolized, lactate may also function as a signaling molecule by activation of the G-protein–coupled receptor 81 (GPR81). Thus, we aimed to characterize the metabolic effects of GPR81 activation in Müller cells.
Method: Primary Müller cells from mice were treated with and without 10 mM L-lactate in the presence or absence of 6 mM glucose. The effects of lactate receptor GPR81 activation were evaluated by the addition of 5 mM 3,5-DHBA (3,5-dihydroxybenzoic acid), a GPR81 agonist. Western blot analyses were used to determine protein expression of GPR81. Cell survival was assessed through 3-(4,5-dimethyl-2-thiazolyl)-2,5-diphenyl-2H-tetrazolium bromide (MTT) viability assays. Lactate release was quantified by commercially available lactate kits. 13C-labeling studies via mass spectroscopy and Seahorse analyses were performed to evaluate metabolism of lactate and glucose, and mitochondrial function. Finally, Müller cell function was evaluated by measuring glutamate uptake.
Results: The lactate receptor, GPR81, was upregulated during glucose deprivation. Treatment with a GPR81 agonist did not affect Müller cell survival. However, GPR81 activation diminished lactate release allowing lactate to be metabolized intracellularly. Furthermore, GPR81 activation increased metabolism of glucose and mitochondrial function. Finally, maximal glutamate uptake decreased in response to GPR81 activation during glucose deprivation.
Conclusions: The present study revealed dual properties of lactate via functioning as an active metabolic energy substrate and a regulatory molecule by activation of the GPR81 receptor in primary Müller cells. Thus, combinational therapy of lactate and GPR81 agonists may be of future interest in maintaining Müller cell survival, ultimately leading to increased resistance toward retinal neurodegeneration.
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