Metabolism of glycerol, glucose, and lactate in the citric acid cycle prior to incorporation into hepatic acylglycerols

J Biol Chem. 2013 May 17;288(20):14488-14496. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M113.461947. Epub 2013 Apr 9.


During hepatic lipogenesis, the glycerol backbone of acylglycerols originates from one of three sources: glucose, glycerol, or substrates passing through the citric acid cycle via glyceroneogenesis. The relative contribution of each substrate source to glycerol in rat liver acylglycerols was determined using (13)C-enriched substrates and NMR. Animals received a fixed mixture of glucose, glycerol, and lactate; one group received [U-(13)C6]glucose, another received [U-(13)C3]glycerol, and the third received [U-(13)C3]lactate. After 3 h, the livers were harvested to extract fats, and the glycerol moiety from hydrolyzed acylglycerols was analyzed by (13)C NMR. In either fed or fasted animals, glucose and glycerol provided the majority of the glycerol backbone carbons, whereas the contribution of lactate was small. In fed animals, glucose contributed >50% of the total newly synthesized glycerol backbone, and 35% of this contribution occurred after glucose had passed through the citric acid cycle. By comparison, the glycerol contribution was ~40%, and of this, 17% of the exogenous glycerol passed first through the cycle. In fasted animals, exogenous glycerol became the major contributor to acylglycerols. The contribution from exogenous lactate did increase in fasted animals, but its overall contribution remained small. The contributions of glucose and glycerol that had passed through the citric acid cycle first increased in fasted animals from 35 to 71% for glucose and from 17 to 24% for glycerol. Thus, a substantial fraction from both substrate sources passed through the cycle prior to incorporation into the glycerol moiety of acylglycerols in the liver.

Keywords: Glucose; Glycerol; Glyceroneogenesis; Hepatic Lipogenesis; Liver; NMR; Substrate Cycling; Triglyceride; Triglyceride/Glycerol.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Citric Acid Cycle*
  • Fasting
  • Glucose / metabolism*
  • Glycerides / metabolism*
  • Glycerol / metabolism*
  • Lactic Acid / metabolism*
  • Liver / metabolism*
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism
  • Pyruvic Acid / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


  • Glycerides
  • Lactic Acid
  • Pyruvic Acid
  • Glucose
  • Glycerol