Competition of glycerol with other oxidizable substrates in rat brain

M. C. McKenna, L. I. Bezold, S. J. Kimatian, J. T. Tildon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The rate of conversion of [1,3-14C]glycerol into 14CO2 was measured in the presence and absence of unlabelled alternative substrates in whole homogenates from the brains of young (4-6 and 18-20 days old) and adult rats. Unlabelled glucose decreased 14CO2 production from [1,3-14C]glycerol by about 40% at all ages studied. Unlabelled 3-hydroxybutyrate significantly decreased the 14CO2 production from both low (0.2 mM) and high (2.0 mM) concentrations of glycerol in 4-6- and 18-20-day-old rat pups. However, the addition of 3-hydroxybutyrate had no effect on the rate of 14CO2 production from 2.0 mM-glycerol in adult rats, suggesting that the interaction of 3-hydroxybutyrate with glycerol in adult rat brain is complex and may be related to the biphasic kinetics previously reported for glycerol oxidation. Unlabelled glutamine decreased the production of 14CO2 by brain homogenates from 18-20-day-old and adult rats, but not in 4-6-day-old rat pups. In the converse situation, the addition of unlabelled glycerol to whole brain homogenates had little effect on the rate of 14CO2 production from [6-14C]glucose, 3-hydroxy[3-14C]butyrate and [U-14C]glutamine, although some significant differences were noted. Collectively these results suggest that glycerol and these other substrates may be metabolized in separate subcellular compartments in brain such that the products of glucose, 3-hydroxybutyrate and glutamine metabolism can dilute the oxidation of glycerol, but the converse cannot occur. The data also demonstrate that there are complex age-related changes in the interaction of glycerol with 3-hydroxybutyrate and glutamine. The fact that glycerol oxidation was only partially suppressed by the addition of 1-5 mM-glucose, -3-hydroxybutyrate or -glutamine could also suggest that glycerol may be selectively utilized as an energy substrate in some discrete brain region.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)47-51
Number of pages5
JournalBiochemical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1986

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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