The G-protein-coupled lactate receptor, GPR81 (HCA1), is known to promote lipid storage in adipocytes by downregulating cAMP levels. Here, we show that GPR81 is also present in the mammalian brain, including regions of the cerebral neocortex and hippocampus, where it can be activated by physiological concentrations of lactate and by the specific GPR81 agonist 3,5-dihydroxybenzoate to reduce cAMP. Cerebral GPR81 is concentrated on the synaptic membranes of excitatory synapses, with a postsynaptic predominance. GPR81 is also enriched at the blood-brain-barrier: the GPR81 densities at endothelial cell membranes are about twice the GPR81 density at membranes of perivascular astrocytic processes, but about one-seventh of that on synaptic membranes. There is only a slight signal in perisynaptic processes of astrocytes. In synaptic spines, as well as in adipocytes, GPR81 immunoreactivity is located on subplasmalemmal vesicular organelles, suggesting trafficking of the protein to and from the plasma membrane. The results indicate roles of lactate in brain signaling, including a neuronal glucose and glycogen saving response to the supply of lactate. We propose that lactate, through activation of GPR81 receptors, can act as a volume transmitter that links neuronal activity, cerebral energy metabolism and energy substrate availability.
Cerebral Cortex (new York, N.y. : 1991), 2013, p. 1-12