The Fates of Pyruvate

As mentioned in the previous blog, obligatory glycolytic cells lack the apparatus (eg, mitochondria) to fully oxidize fuels down to CO2 and water. Thus, they can’t run on fatty acids, ketones, or beta-hydroxybutyrate. During prolonged starvation, there’s always some glucose in the blood, so they survive.

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Recommended textbook: Stipanuk or Gropper.

Glucose -> glycolysis -> pyruvate: then to lactate or the mitochondria, depending on the context. Skeletal muscle has mitochondria, but if you’re exercising hard, glycogen to lactate produces more energy faster than glycogen to pyruvate to mitochondria. Blood lactate increases in this context. During prolonged starvation, lactate is a valuable precursor for gluconeogenesis, so many tissues release lactate instead of oxidizing pyruvate.

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calories proper