Ins and Outs of the TCA Cycle: The Central Role of Anaplerosis

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26 Scopus citations


The reactions of the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle allow the controlled combustion of fat and carbohydrate. In principle, TCA cycle intermediates are regenerated on every turn and can facilitate the oxidation of an infinite number of nutrient molecules. However, TCA cycle intermediates can be lost to cataplerotic pathways that provide precursors for biosynthesis, and they must be replaced by anaplerotic pathways that regenerate these intermediates. Together, anaplerosis and cataplerosis help regulate rates of biosynthesis by dictating precursor supply, and they play underappreciated roles in catabolism and cellular energy status. They facilitate recycling pathways and nitrogen trafficking necessary for catabolism, and they influence redox state and oxidative capacity by altering TCA cycle intermediate concentrations. These functions vary widely by tissue and play emerging roles in disease. This article reviews the roles of anaplerosis and cataplerosis in various tissues and discusses how they alter carbon transitions, and highlights their contribution to mechanisms of disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)19-47
Number of pages29
JournalAnnual review of nutrition
StatePublished - 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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