The metabolic fate of branched-chain amino acids and 2-oxo acids in rat muscle homogenates and diaphragms

Int J Biochem. 1985;17(9):957-65. doi: 10.1016/0020-711x(85)90240-x.


After incubation of muscle preparations with [U-14C]branched-chain amino acids or 2-oxo acids, radioactive metabolites were separated, identified and quantified. Homogenates of rat heart and skeletal muscle incubated with 4-methyl-2-oxopentanoate accumulated isovalerate, 3-hydroxyisovalerate and the corresponding carnitine esters. Incubation with 3-methyl-2-oxobutanoate resulted in the production of isobutyrate, 3-hydroxyisobutyrate and their carnitine esters. Addition of L-carnitine increased the production of the esters. The enzymes 3-methylcrotonyl-CoA carboxylase and 3-hydroxyisobutyric acid dehydrogenase apparently are inactive during incubation of muscle homogenates. With liver homogenates the degradation of both 2-oxo acids was more complete. Rat hemidiaphragms incubated with leucine, valine and isoleucine accumulated the corresponding branched-chain 2-oxo acids, fatty acids and hydroxylated fatty acids. The degradation of valine was markedly limited by the release of these metabolites. Considerable amounts (relatively smaller for valine) of radioactivity were also recovered in CO2 and glutamine and glutamate. Incubations with branched-chain 2-oxo acids gave the same radioactive products, except for glutamine and glutamate. Radioactivity was never found in lactate, pyruvate or alanine. These data indicate that the carbon-chains of amino acids entering the citric acid cycle in muscle, are not used for oxidation or for alanine synthesis, but are converted exclusively to glutamine.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids, Branched-Chain / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Carbon Radioisotopes
  • Diaphragm / metabolism
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Keto Acids / metabolism*
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Male
  • Muscle, Smooth / metabolism*
  • Muscles / metabolism*
  • Myocardium / metabolism
  • Organ Specificity
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Structure-Activity Relationship


  • Amino Acids, Branched-Chain
  • Carbon Radioisotopes
  • Keto Acids