Can Fatty Acids Be Converted To Glucose?

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Metabolic Functions Of The Liver

Hepatocytes are metabolic overachievers in the body. They play critical roles in synthesizing molecules that are utilized elsewhere to support homeostasis, in converting molecules of one type to another, and in regulating energy balances. If you have taken a course in biochemistry, you probably spent most of that class studying metabolic pathways of the liver. At the risk of damning by faint praise, the major metabolic functions of the liver can be summarized into several major categories: Carbohydrate Metabolism It is critical for all animals to maintain concentrations of glucose in blood within a narrow, normal range. Maintainance of normal blood glucose levels over both short (hours) and long (days to weeks) periods of time is one particularly important function of the liver. Hepatocytes house many different metabolic pathways and employ dozens of enzymes that are alternatively turned on or off depending on whether blood levels of glucose are rising or falling out of the normal range. Two important examples of these abilities are: Excess glucose entering the blood after a meal is rapidly taken up by the liver and sequestered as the large polymer, glycogen (a process called glyco Continue reading >>

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Popular Questions

  1. Christian

    I read conflicting views about whether or not the human body can create glucose out of fat. Can it?

  2. David

    Only about 5–6% of triglyceride (fat) can be converted to glucose in humans.
    This is because triglyceride is made up of one 3-carbon glycerol molecule and three 16- or 18-carbon fatty acids. The glycerol (3/51-to-57 = 5.2–5.9%) can be converted to glucose in the liver by gluconeogenesis (after conversion to dihydroxyacetone phosphate).
    The fatty acid chains, however, are oxidized to acetyl-CoA, which cannot be converted to glucose in humans. Acetyl-CoA is a source of ATP when oxidized in the tricarboxylic acid cycle, but the carbon goes to carbon dioxide. (The molecule of oxaloacetate produced in the cycle only balances the one acetyl-CoA condenses with to enter the cycle, and so cannot be tapped off to gluconeogenesis.)
    So triglyceride is a poor source of glucose in starvation, and that is not its primary function. Some Acetyl-CoA is converted to ketone bodies (acetoacetate and β-hydroxybutyrate) in starvation, which can replace part — but not all — of the brain’s requirement for glucose.
    Plants and some bacteria can convert fatty acids to glucose because they possess the glyoxylate shunt enzymes that allow two molecules of Acetyl-CoA to be converted into malate and then oxaloacetate. This is generally lacking in mammals, although it has been reported in hibernating animals (thanks to @Roland for the last piece of info).

  3. blu potatos

    To be more detailed it is the irreversibly of the reaction carried by Pyruvate dehydrogenase that makes the conversion of the fatty acid chains to glucose impossible. The fatty acids chains are converted to acetyl-CoA.
    Acetyl-CoA to be converted into pyruvate need an enzyme that can do the Pyruvate Dehydrogenase's inverse reaction (in humans there is no such enzyme). Than the pyruvete inside the mitochondria is converted into glucose(gluconeogenesis).

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