Glycogenolysis and gluconeogenesis are sensitive to nutritional state, and the net direction of flux is controlled by multiple enzymatic steps. This delicate balance in the liver is disrupted by a variety of pathological states including cancer and diabetes mellitus. Hyperpolarized carbon-13 magnetic resonance is a new metabolic imaging technique that can probe intermediary metabolism nondestructively. There are currently no methods to rapidly distinguish livers in a gluconeogenic from glycogenolytic state. Here we use the gluconeogenic precursor dihydroxyacetone (DHA) to deliver hyperpolarized carbon-13 to the perfused mouse liver. DHA enters gluconeogenesis at the level of the trioses. Perfusion conditions were designed to establish either a gluconeogenic or a glycogenolytic state. Unexpectedly, we found that [2-(13)C]DHA was metabolized within a few seconds to the common intermediates and end products of both glycolysis and gluconeogenesis under both conditions, including [2,5-(13)C]glucose, [2-(13)C]glycerol 3-phosphate, [2-(13)C]phosphoenolpyruvate (PEP), [2-(13)C]pyruvate, [2-(13)C]alanine, and [2-(13)C]lactate. [2-(13)C]Phosphoenolpyruvate, a key branch point in gluconeogenesis and glycolysis, was monitored in functioning tissue for the first time. Observation of [2-(13)C]PEP was not anticipated as the free energy difference between PEP and pyruvate is large. Pyruvate kinase is the only regulatory step of the common glycolytic-gluconeogenic pathway that appears to exert significant control over the kinetics of any metabolites of DHA. A ratio of glycolytic to gluconeogenic products distinguished the gluconeogenic from glycogenolytic state in these functioning livers.
Keywords: Diabetes; Dihydroxyacetone; Gluconeogenesis; Glucose Metabolism; Glycogenolytic; Glycolysis; Hyperpolarization; Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR).
© 2014 by The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.