Glycerol-3-phosphate dehydrogenase 1 deficiency induces compensatory amino acid metabolism during fasting in mice

Metabolism. 2016 Nov;65(11):1646-1656. doi: 10.1016/j.metabol.2016.08.005. Epub 2016 Aug 24.


Background: Glucose is used as an energy source in many organs and obtained from dietary carbohydrates. However, when the external energy supply is interrupted, e.g., during fasting, carbohydrates preserved in the liver and glycogenic precursors derived from other organs are used to maintain blood glucose levels. Glycerol and glycogenic amino acids derived from adipocytes and skeletal muscles are utilized as glycogenic precursors. Glycerol-3-phosphate dehydrogenase 1 (GPD1), an NAD+/NADH-dependent enzyme present in the cytosol, catalyzes the reversible conversion of glycerol-3-phosphate (G3P) to dihydroxyacetone phosphate (DHAP). Since G3P is one of the substrates utilized for gluconeogenesis in the liver, the conversion of G3P to DHAP by GPD1 is essential for maintaining blood glucose levels during fasting. We focused on GPD1 and examined its roles in gluconeogenesis during fasting.

Methods: Using GPD1 null model BALB/cHeA mice (HeA mice), we measured gluconeogenesis from glycerol and the change of blood glucose levels under fasting conditions. We also measured gene expression related to gluconeogenesis in the liver and protein metabolism in skeletal muscle. BALB/cBy mice (By mice) were used as a control.

Results: The blood glucose levels in the HeA mice were lower than that in the By mice after glycerol administration. Although lack of GPD1 inhibited gluconeogenesis from glycerol, blood glucose levels in the HeA mice after 1-4h of fasting were significantly higher than that in the By mice. Muscle protein synthesis in HeA mice was significantly lower than that in the By mice. Moreover, blood alanine levels and usage of alanine for gluconeogenesis in the liver were significantly higher in the HeA mice than that in the By mice.

Conclusions: Although these data indicate that a lack of GPD1 inhibits gluconeogenesis from glycerol, chronic GPD1 deficiency may induce an adaptation that enhances gluconeogenesis from glycogenic amino acids.

Keywords: BALB/cHeA; Gluconeogenesis; Glycerol; Glycogenic amino acid.

MeSH terms

  • Alanine / metabolism
  • Amino Acids / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Dihydroxyacetone / metabolism
  • Fasting / metabolism*
  • Gluconeogenesis / genetics
  • Glycerol / metabolism
  • Glycerol-3-Phosphate Dehydrogenase (NAD+) / deficiency*
  • Glycerol-3-Phosphate Dehydrogenase (NAD+) / genetics
  • Glycerophosphates / metabolism
  • Glycogen / metabolism
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Muscle Proteins / metabolism
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism


  • Amino Acids
  • Blood Glucose
  • Glycerophosphates
  • Muscle Proteins
  • Glycogen
  • alpha-glycerophosphoric acid
  • Glycerol-3-Phosphate Dehydrogenase (NAD+)
  • Dihydroxyacetone
  • Alanine
  • Glycerol