Rapid metabolic evolution in human prefrontal cortex

Xing Fu, Patrick Giavalisco, Xiling Liu, Gareth Catchpole, Ning Fu, Zhi Bin Ning, Song Guo, Zheng Yan, Mehmet Somel, Svante Pääbo, Rong Zeng, Lothar Willmitzer, Philipp Khaitovich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Human evolution is characterized by the rapid expansion of brain size and drastic increase in cognitive capabilities. It has long been suggested that these changes were accompanied by modifications of brain metabolism. Indeed, human-specific changes on gene expression or amino acid sequence were reported for a number of metabolic genes, but actual metabolite measurements in humans and apes have remained scarce. Here, we investigate concentrations of more than 100 metabolites in the prefrontal and cerebellar cortex in 49 humans, 11 chimpanzees, and 45 rhesus macaques of different ages using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GCMS). We show that the brain metabolome undergoes substantial changes, both ontogenetically and evolutionarily: 88% of detected metabolites show significant concentration changes with age, whereas 77% of these metabolic changes differ significantly among species. Although overall metabolic divergence reflects phylogenetic relationships among species, we found a fourfold acceleration of metabolic changes in prefrontal cortex compared with cerebellum in the human lineage. These human-specific metabolic changes are paralleled by changes in expression patterns of the corresponding enzymes, and affect pathways involved in synaptic transmission, memory, and learning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6181-6186
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume108
Issue number15
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 12 Apr 2011
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Cognition
  • Development
  • Glutamate

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