Can Ketone Bodies Be Converted To Glucose?

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Ketogenesis pathway. The three ketone bodies (acetoacetate, acetone, and beta-hydroxy-butyrate) are marked within an orange box Ketogenesis is the biochemical process by which organisms produce a group of substances collectively known as ketone bodies by the breakdown of fatty acids and ketogenic amino acids.[1][2] This process supplies energy to certain organs (particularly the brain) under circumstances such as fasting, but insufficient ketogenesis can cause hypoglycemia and excessive production of ketone bodies leads to a dangerous state known as ketoacidosis.[3] Production[edit] Ketone bodies are produced mainly in the mitochondria of liver cells, and synthesis can occur in response to an unavailability of blood glucose, such as during fasting.[3] Other cells are capable of carrying out ketogenesis, but they are not as effective at doing so.[4] Ketogenesis occurs constantly in a healthy individual.[5] Ketogenesis takes place in the setting of low glucose levels in the blood, after exhaustion of other cellular carbohydrate stores, such as glycogen.[citation needed] It can also take place when there is insufficient insulin (e.g. in type 1 (but not 2) diabetes), particularly durin Continue reading >>

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  1. Doug Freyburger

    Others have mentioned the chemical details that lead to limits. That's only one side of the story. The other side is redundancy in energy production. Ketones can be used in anaerobic energy production. It's not as efficient but it is faster. There are times when fast beats efficient so redundancy gets selected for.

  2. Anand R

    Acetyl CoA can’t be circulated for two reasons: it’s a high energy compound and it’s labile. So it’s not a stable form for circulation to tissues. Also acetyl coA cannot cross cell membrane.
    Ketone bodies are an alternate fuel source. More importantly, they are water soluble analogs of fatty acids. This is important since, during starvation there is fat breakdown and excess fatty acids circulate in blood. However, fatty acids cannot be used by brain as fuel since, they cannot cross the blood brain barrier. Liver by producing ketone bodies helps brain cells during starvation.

    Also, these ketone bodies, as such, can be used by other tissues as well. There by other tissues refrain from using glucose. Hence, ketone bodies have a glucose-sparing effect. This glucose will be available for tissues like brain and red cells for use.

  3. Barry Gehm

    It’s because oxaloacetate is needed to metabolize acetyl-CoA (first step in the Krebs cycle is the reaction of acetyl-CoA with oxaloacetate) and is also needed (and used up) in gluconeogenesis (the production of glucose from amino acids and other small molecules, but NOT from acetyl groups or fatty acids). The liver is primarily responsible for gluconeogenesis, and if it uses up oxaloacetate on that, acetyl-CoA builds up and ties up all the coenzyme A in acetylated form. In order to alleviate this, the liver converts the acetyl-CoA into ketone bodies, and releases them into the blood. These, as the book says, are taken up by other tissues (such as brain and muscle) and converted back into acetyl-CoA. A key point is that these cells can use the acetyl-CoA because they are not depleted in oxaloacetate because they do not carry out gluconeogenesis.

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