Energy metabolism of rabbit retina as related to function: high cost of Na+ transport.
Experiments designed to examine the energy requirements of neurophysiological function were performed on isolated rabbit retina. Function was altered by photic stimulation or by function-specific drugs, and the response of energy metabolism was assessed by simultaneous measurements of O2 consumption and lactate production. In other experiments, the supply of O2 or glucose was reduced and the effect on energy metabolism and electrophysiological function was observed. Energy requirements under control conditions in darkness were high, with O2 consumption (per gm dry wt) at 11.3 mumol min-1, with lactate production at 14.8 mumol min-1, and with the derived value for glucose consumption at 9.3 mumol min-1 and for high-energy phosphate (approximately P) generation at 82.6 mumol min-1. Energy reserves were small. Removing glucose abolished the b-wave of the electroretinogram (ERG) with a t1/2 of 1 min, but did not immediately affect O2 consumption or the PIII of the ERG. Removing O2 caused increases of up to 2.7-fold in glycolysis (Pasteur effect) and caused both PIII and b-wave to fail, with a t1/2 of about 5 min. Neurotransmission through the inner retina was supported almost entirely by glycolysis, as evidenced by large increases in lactate production in response to flashing light and decreases in response to transmitter blockers (2.3-fold overall change), with no change in O2 consumption. Phototransduction, on the other hand, was normally supported by oxidative metabolism. The dark current accounted for 41% of the retina's O2 consumption. With O2 reduced, the dark current was partially supported by glycolysis, which accounts (at least in part) for the large Pasteur effect. Na+ transport by NaK ATPase accounted for about half of all energy used, as evidenced by the response to strophanthidin, that is, for 49% of the oxidative energy and 58% of the glycolytic energy. The t1/2 for the turnover of intracellular Na+ was calculated from these data to be less than 1 min. Changes in temperature caused changes in the amplitude of light-evoked electrical responses of 6.5% per degree and caused changes in both O2 consumption and glycolysis of 6.8% per degree (Q10 = 1.9). A surprisingly large fraction of oxidative energy, corresponding to about 40% of the total energy generated, could not be assigned to phototransduction, to neurotransmission, to Na+ transport for other purposes, or to vegetative metabolism. We cannot account for its usage, but it may be related to the (previously reported) rapid turnover of the gamma-phosphate of retinal GTP, the function of which also remains unknown.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)