Interaction between the pentose phosphate pathway and gluconeogenesis from glycerol in the liver

J Biol Chem. 2014 Nov 21;289(47):32593-603. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M114.577692. Epub 2014 Oct 6.


After exposure to [U-(13)C3]glycerol, the liver produces primarily [1,2,3-(13)C3]- and [4,5,6-(13)C3]glucose in equal proportions through gluconeogenesis from the level of trioses. Other (13)C-labeling patterns occur as a consequence of alternative pathways for glucose production. The pentose phosphate pathway (PPP), metabolism in the citric acid cycle, incomplete equilibration by triose phosphate isomerase, or the transaldolase reaction all interact to produce complex (13)C-labeling patterns in exported glucose. Here, we investigated (13)C labeling in plasma glucose in rats given [U-(13)C3]glycerol under various nutritional conditions. Blood was drawn at multiple time points to extract glucose for NMR analysis. Because the transaldolase reaction and incomplete equilibrium by triose phosphate isomerase cannot break a (13)C-(13)C bond within the trioses contributing to glucose, the appearance of [1,2-(13)C2]-, [2,3-(13)C2]-, [5,6-(13)C2]-, and [4,5-(13)C2]glucose provides direct evidence for metabolism of glycerol in the citric acid cycle or the PPP but not an influence of either triose phosphate isomerase or the transaldolase reaction. In all animals, [1,2-(13)C2]glucose/[2,3-(13)C2]glucose was significantly greater than [5,6-(13)C2]glucose/[4,5-(13)C2]glucose, a relationship that can only arise from gluconeogenesis followed by passage of substrates through the PPP. In summary, the hepatic PPP in vivo can be detected by (13)C distribution in blood glucose after [U-(13)C3]glycerol administration.

Keywords: Gluconeogenesis; Glucose Metabolism; Glycerol; Liver Metabolism; Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR); Pentose Phosphate Pathway (PPP).

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Carbon Isotopes
  • Gluconeogenesis*
  • Glycerol / metabolism*
  • Lactates / metabolism
  • Liver / metabolism*
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Male
  • Pentose Phosphate Pathway*
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Time Factors
  • Transaldolase / metabolism
  • Triose-Phosphate Isomerase / metabolism


  • Blood Glucose
  • Carbon Isotopes
  • Lactates
  • Transaldolase
  • Triose-Phosphate Isomerase
  • Glycerol