Influence of the 13C-enrichment of the habitual diet on a 13CO2 breath test used as an index of liver glycogen oxidation: a validation study in western Europe and Africa

Nutrition. 2000 Jan;16(1):6-10. doi: 10.1016/s0899-9007(99)00180-x.


A diet containing naturally 13C-enriched carbohydrate combined with a 13CO2 breath-test analysis can be used to monitor liver glycogen oxidation in persons used to a diet low in 13C, e.g., the Western European diet. In this study, we evaluated this test principle further by changing the way we label the glycogen pool. The 13C enrichment of exhaled CO2 was studied in two groups, one in Europe and one in Africa. The European group (n = 12) was accustomed to a diet low in 13C, and they went on a 13C-enriched study diet to identify liver glycogen. The African group (n = 6) was accustomed to a diet naturally high in 13C, and they went on a diet low in 13C. The basal 13C abundance in exhaled CO2 was higher in the African group (1.0879 At%; atmospheric 1.1 atom percent) than in the European group (1.0821 At%). During the study period, the parameters for liver glycogen oxidation--the 13CO2 enrichment plateau, the plateau duration, and the return to baseline time--did not differ between groups. The abundance of 13CO2 in exhaled CO2 over time in the two groups was similar but inverse. This study confirms the use of a 13CO2 breath test to monitor liver glycogen oxidation and demonstrates how to use such a test in persons accustomed to a diet high in 13C.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Botswana
  • Breath Tests*
  • Carbon Dioxide / analysis*
  • Carbon Isotopes*
  • Fasting
  • Female
  • Glycogen / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Kinetics
  • Liver / metabolism*
  • Netherlands
  • Oxidation-Reduction


  • Carbon Isotopes
  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Glycogen