Kevin Behar, PhD

Senior Research Scientist; Director, MRRC Neurometabolism Research Laboratory

Research Departments & Organizations

Psychiatry: Connecticut Mental Health Center | Neuroscience Research Training Program (NRTP) | Psychology Section

Bioimaging Sciences: Magnetic Resonance Research Center | Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy

Diabetes Research Center

Office of Cooperative Research

Research Interests

Central Nervous System; Glutamates; Glutamine; Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, Biomolecular; Psychiatry

Research Summary

Glutamate and GABA are the major excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitters in the central nervous system and together account for the majority of all of its neurons. Their synaptic actions are maintained through the operation of complex metabolic cycles between neurons and neighboring astroglia. Work in our laboratory is centered on deciphering the mechanism(s) linking glutamate and GABA neurotransmitter cycling to brain activity, and the role of glucose and alternate substrates (e.g., monocarboxylic acids) in this process. Our studies employ nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy with stable isotope labeling (13C, 15N) and kinetic modeling to study metabolic pathway fluxes in neurons and glia of the intact brain in vivo. This work is being applied to study the role of altered glucose and neurotransmitter metabolism in rodent models of diabetes, depression, and epilepsy. Our laboratory uses Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy and Imaging (MRS/I) in conjunction with stable 13C-labeled substrates, which can be introduced into the bloodstream in rodents to ‘visualize’ the pathways of brain glucose and energy metabolism and the synthesis of the neurotransmitter amino acids glutamate (excitatory) and GABA (inhibitory).

Specialized Terms: NMR; 1H NMR; 13C NMR; In vivo brain metabolism; Glutamate; Gamma-aminobutyrate; Glutamine; Neuron-glial trafficking

Extensive Research Description

  • NMR studies to elucidate the role of glucose and alternate fuel substrates in support of brain activity and glutamate/GABA/glutamine cycling in diabetes and mood disorders.

  • NMR studies of GABA synthesis in the brain

Selected Publications

See list of PubMed publications

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