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Neural Plasticity
Volume 2016 (2016), Article ID 9839348, 13 pages
Research Article

Wnt5a Increases the Glycolytic Rate and the Activity of the Pentose Phosphate Pathway in Cortical Neurons

1CARE Biomedical Research Center, Faculty of Biological Sciences, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Alameda 340, P.O. Box 114-D, Santiago, Chile
2Facultad de Ciencias Naturales, Departamento de Química y Biología, Universidad de Atacama, Copayapu 485, Copiapó, Chile
3Centro de Estudios Científicos (CECs), Casilla 1469, Valdivia, Chile
4Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing, School of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, Australia
5Centro de Excelencia en Biomedicina de Magallanes (CEBIMA), Universidad de Magallanes, Punta Arenas, Chile

Received 21 April 2016; Accepted 10 July 2016

Academic Editor: Jordi Duran

Copyright © 2016 Pedro Cisternas et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


In the last few years, several reports have proposed that Wnt signaling is a general metabolic regulator, suggesting a role for this pathway in the control of metabolic flux. Wnt signaling is critical for several neuronal functions, but little is known about the correlation between this pathway and energy metabolism. The brain has a high demand for glucose, which is mainly used for energy production. Neurons use energy for highly specific processes that require a high energy level, such as maintaining the electrical potential and synthesizing neurotransmitters. Moreover, an important metabolic impairment has been described in all neurodegenerative disorders. Despite the key role of glucose metabolism in the brain, little is known about the cellular pathways involved in regulating this process. We report here that Wnt5a induces an increase in glucose uptake and glycolytic rate and an increase in the activity of the pentose phosphate pathway; the effects of Wnt5a require the intracellular generation of nitric oxide. Our data suggest that Wnt signaling stimulates neuronal glucose metabolism, an effect that could be important for the reported neuroprotective role of Wnt signaling in neurodegenerative disorders.