Citrate, a ubiquitous key metabolite with regulatory function in the CNS.
Citrate is key constituent of the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle, serves as substrate for fatty acid and sterol biosynthesis, and functions as a key regulator of intermediary energy metabolism. Ursula Sonnewald had initiated studies using for the first time both proton- and 13C-NMR to investigate metabolic processes in cultured neurons and astrocytes resulting in the important observation that citrate was specifically synthesized in and released from astrocytes in large amounts which is in keeping with the high concentration found in the CSF. The aim of this review is to highlight the possible roles of citrate in physiological and pathophysiological processes in the CNS. An interesting feature of citrate is its ability to chelate Ca2+, Mg2+ and Zn2+and thereby playing a pivotal role as an endogenous modulator of glutamate receptors and in particular the NMDA subtypes of these receptors in the CNS. Besides its presence in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) citrate is also found in high amounts in prostate fluid reaching concentrations as high as 180 mM and here Zn2+ seems also to play an important role, which makes prostate cells interesting for comparison of features of citrate and Zn2+ between these cells and cells in the CNS.