Welcome to Neuroscience Center Zurich

Prof. Dr. Bruno Weber


Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology
University of Zurich

Winterthurerstrasse 190
8057 Zurich

Tel. +41 44 635 6085
Secr. Tel. +41 44 635 5969

Main Goals, Keywords

Our group uses a wide range of imaging tools to study the cell-to-cell communication pathways involved in energy metabolism and information processing in cerebral cortex. Furthermore, we are working on dissecting the interaction of neurons and astrocytes with the vascular system, which is responsible for maintaining adequate delivery of oxygen and energy substrates to the brain. As well as studying these systems, the development of imaging systems for in vivo research is an additional research focus of the group.

Group Members

1 professor, 6 postdocs, 6 doctoral students, 1 administrative person

Previous and Current Research

For details, please see:

The brain relies on a continuous energy supply. Under normal circumstances, glucose represents the main energy substrate for the brain. Although the brain constitutes only 2% of the body weight, the energy-consuming processes of the brain account for about 25% of total body glucose utilization. In total, the human brain of an adult burns approximately 120 gram of glucose during a whole day.

For decades the notion that glucose is taken up and metabolized by individual brain cells according to their relative need was carved in stone. However, twenty years ago, a novel concept was introduced. The so-called astrocyte-neuron lactate shuttle hypothesis postulates main glucose uptake by astrocytes – brain cells located between neurons and blood vessels. Only after glycolytic degradation, lactate is transported to neurons where it serves as an energy substrate.

Past in vivo studies did not have the capability to resolve aspects of brain energy metabolism on a sufficient temporal and spatial level. As a consequence, the validity of the model has not been unambiguously demonstrated yet.

Recently, we established the combined use of genetically encoded substrate sensors and two-photon laser scanning microscopy in the intact brain. This toolset allows real-time measurements of substrate concentrations (e.g. glucose, lactate, pyruvate) in individual cellular compartments.

At present, we focus mainly on the following questions:

  1. How do individual cells cooperate metabolically in the intact brain?
  2. What is the role of astrocytic lactate transporters for proper neuronal energy supply?
  3. Is the integrity of astrocytic networks an essential prerequisite for adequate lactate delivery to neurons?

A more complete understanding of the mechanisms and compartments involved in brain energetics is fundamental for a full understanding not only of the physiology but also the pathophysiology of brain function. Indeed, many neurological pathologies such as neurodegenerative diseases, stroke, epilepsy, migraine and brain tumors display abnormalities in brain energy metabolism.

Techniques and Equipment

Optical imaging: in-vivo two-photon microscopy, multiwavelength spectroscopy, laser speckle contrast imaging, voltage sensitive dye imaging

Radiotracer research: Quantitative measurements of radiotracer kinetics using PET and beta-probes

Electrophysiology: Acute and chronic multichannel extracellular recordings

Vascular anatomy: Immunohistochemistry, corrosion casts, synchrotron-based x-ray microscopy

Modeling: Multiscale modeling of fluid dynamics of cerebral blood flow

Selected Publications

Selected Lectures, Seminars or Colloquia

BIO 402, BIO 405
Advanced Courses in Neurosciences (ZNZ PhD program)


Swiss National Science Foundation,, OPO Stiftung, ZIHP, Forschungskredit UZH, EMBO, Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation



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© 2015 ETH Zurich | Imprint | Disclaimer | 4 February 2015