A comprehensive analysis of myocardial substrate preference emphasizes the need for a synchronized fluxomic/metabolomic research design

Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2017 Jun 1;312(6):H1215-H1223. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.00016.2017. Epub 2017 Apr 14.


The heart oxidizes fatty acids, carbohydrates, and ketone bodies inside the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle to generate the reducing equivalents needed for ATP production. Competition between these substrates makes it difficult to estimate the extent of pyruvate oxidation. Previously, hyperpolarized pyruvate detected propionate-mediated activation of carbohydrate oxidation, even in the presence of acetate. In this report, the optimal concentration of propionate for the activation of glucose oxidation was measured in mouse hearts perfused in Langendorff mode. This study was performed with a more physiologically relevant perfusate than the previous work. Increasing concentrations of propionate did not cause adverse effects on myocardial metabolism, as evidenced by unchanged O2 consumption, TCA cycle flux, and developed pressures. Propionate at 1 mM was sufficient to achieve significant increases in pyruvate dehydrogenase flux (3×), and anaplerosis (6×), as measured by isotopomer analysis. These results further demonstrate the potential of propionate as an aid for the correct estimation of total carbohydrate oxidative capacity in the heart. However, liquid chromotography/mass spectroscopy-based metabolomics detected large changes (~30-fold) in malate and fumarate pool sizes. This observation leads to a key observation regarding mass balance in the TCA cycle; flux through a portion of the cycle can be drastically elevated without changing the O2 consumption.

Keywords: carbohydrates; fatty acids; isotopomer analysis; metabolomics; metabonomics; substrate selection.

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphate / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Carbon-13 Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Chromatography, Liquid
  • Citric Acid Cycle*
  • Fatty Acids / metabolism
  • Fumarates / metabolism
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Isolated Heart Preparation
  • Ketone Bodies / metabolism
  • Malates / metabolism
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Metabolomics / methods*
  • Mice
  • Myocardium / metabolism*
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Propionates / metabolism
  • Pyruvate Dehydrogenase Complex / metabolism
  • Pyruvic Acid / metabolism
  • Research Design*
  • Time Factors


  • Fatty Acids
  • Fumarates
  • Ketone Bodies
  • Malates
  • Propionates
  • Pyruvate Dehydrogenase Complex
  • malic acid
  • Pyruvic Acid
  • fumaric acid
  • Adenosine Triphosphate
  • Glucose
  • propionic acid