Respiration-linked, massive accumulation of Sr2+ is used to reveal the coupled oxidation of pyruvate, α-oxoglutarate, succinate, and malate by in situ mitochondria. All of these substrates were actively oxidized in the dendritic and perikaryal mitochondria, but no α-oxoglutarate or succinate utilization could be demonstrated in the mitochondria of the presynaptic axon terminals. A block at an early step of α-oxoglutarate and succinate oxidation is proposed to account for the negative histochemical results, since the positive reaction with pyruvate and malate proves that these mitochondria possess an intact respiratory chain and energy-coupling mechanism essential for Sr2+ accumulation. This indicates that the mitochondria in the axon terminals would be able to generate energy for synaptic function with at least some of the respiratory substrates. With regard to the block in the tricarboxylic acid cycle, the oxaloacetate necessary for citrate formation is suggested to be provided by fixation of CO2 into some of the pyruvate.

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