Updated: 4/4/2020

Pyruvate Metabolism

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  • A 23-year-old man is running a marathon.  In the last mile of the race he experiences an intense burning in his muscles.  Once he completes the race and rests, the burning slowly subsides.  He asks his physician the next day why this may have occurred and what he can do to mitigate it.  His physician explains that a training regimen can increase his ability to perform aerobic metabolism, and thus decrease the conversion of pyruvate to lactate (via lactate dehydrogenase) which caused the burning in his muscles that he experienced.
  •  Pathways
    • pyruvate → lactate
      • catalyzed by
        • lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) 
      • reversible
      • generated in anaerobic glycolysis
        • allows conversion of NADH → NAD+
      • in the liver, LDH converts lactate to pyruvate
        • for gluconeogenesis or for metabolism to acetyl-CoA
          • Cori cycle
          • shifts energy generation from periphery to the liver
    • pyruvate → acetyl-CoA
      • catalyzed by
        • pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDH)
      • irreversible
      • acetyl-CoA enters the citric cycle
    • pyruvate → oxaloacetate
      • catalyzed by
        • pyruvate carboxylase (PC)
      • irreversible
      • oxaloacetate can
        • replenish the citric acid cycle
        • substrate for gluconeogenesis
    • pyruvate → alanine
      • catalyzed by
        • alanine transaminase (ALT)
      • reversible
      • alanine carries amino groups to the liver from muscle
      • in the liver, ALT converts alanine to pyruvate
        • for gluconeogenesis

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