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Why Can T We Make Glucose From Fatty Acids?

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Fanatic Cook: The Human Body Cannot Make Glucose

Only plants can make glucose from scratch.* Humans must eat the plants, or eat animals that ate the plants, to obtain glucose. And humans absolutely need glucose to survive. This simple sugar is the sole source of energy for our red blood cells and the preferred source for other cells. We are utterly dependant on plants for our existence. (Not to mention that they release oxygen in the process of manufacturing glucose - oxygen that we also need to survive.) * And some algae like seaweed, and some bacteria. Glucose is a molecule with 6 carbon atoms bound together. Humans cannot harness the immense amount of energy needed to get 6 carbon atoms to bind together. Plants, however, can. It's quite a feat actually. They harness the energy from the sun to do this. Plants take in carbon dioxide, string together 6 carbons to make glucose for their fuel (starch is just a chain of glucoses), and give off the excess oxygen. Humans take in the oxygen given off from plants and use it to extract the energy from those bonds within the glucose molecule. (One pathway to extract that energy is called glycolysis. I'll return to glycolysis later.) The waste product, if you will, from our energy-extract Continue reading >>

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  1. manohman

    Why can't fat be converted into Glucose?

    So the reason cited is that beta oxidation/metabolism of fats leads to formation of acetyl coa, a 2 carbon molecule, and that because of that it cannot be converted back into glucose.
    Why exactly is that the case?
    If Glucogenic amino acids can be converted into citric acid cycle intermediates and then turn back into glucose via gluconeogensis, then why cant Fatty Acids which yield Acetyl Coa. Can't you just have Acetyl Coa enter the citric acid cycle and produce the same intermediates that the glucogenic amino acids creat?

  2. Czarcasm

    manohman said: ↑
    So the reason cited is that beta oxidation/metabolism of fats leads to formation of acetyl coa, a 2 carbon molecule, and that because of that it cannot be converted back into glucose.
    Why exactly is that the case?
    If Glucogenic amino acids can be converted into citric acid cycle intermediates and then turn back into glucose via gluconeogensis, then why cant Fatty Acids which yield Acetyl Coa. Can't you just have Acetyl Coa enter the citric acid cycle and produce the same intermediates that the glucogenic amino acids creat?
    Click to expand... Both glucose and fatty acids can be stored in the body as either glycogen for glucose (stored mainly in the liver or skeletal cells) or for FA's, as triacylglycerides (stored in adipose cells). We cannot store excess protein. It's either used to make other proteins, or flushed out of the body if in excess; that's generally the case but we try to make use of some of that energy instead of throwing it all away.
    When a person is deprived of nutrition for a period of time and glycogen stores are depleted, the body will immediately seek out alternative energy sources. Fats (stored for use) are the first priority over protein (which requires the breakdown of tissues such as muscle). We can mobilize these FA's to the liver and convert them to Acetyl-CoA to be used in the TCA cycle and generate much needed energy. On the contrary, when a person eats in excess (a fatty meal high in protein), it's more efficient to store fatty acids as TAG's over glycogen simply because glycogen is extremely hydrophilic and attracts excess water weight; fatty acids are largely stored anhydrously and so you essentially get more bang for your buck. This is evolutionary significant and why birds are able to stay light weight but fly for periods at a time, or why bears are able to hibernate for months at a time. Proteins on the other hand may be used anabolically to build up active tissues (such as when your working out those muscles), unless you live a sedentary lifestyle (less anabolism and therefore, less use of the proteins). As part of the excretion process, protein must be broken down to urea to avoid toxic ammonia and in doing so, the Liver can extract some of that usable energy for storage as glycogen.
    Also, it is worth noting that it is indeed possible to convert FA's to glucose but the pathway can be a little complex and so in terms of energy storage, is not very efficient. The process involves converting Acetyl-CoA to Acetone (transported out of mitochondria to cytosol) where it's converted to Pyruvate which can then be used in the Gluconeogenesis pathway to make Glucose and eventually stored as Glycogen. Have a look for yourself if your interested: http://www.ploscompbiol.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pcbi.1002116.g003/originalimage (and this excludes the whole glycogenesis pathway, which hasn't even begun yet).
    TLDR: it's because proteins have no ability to be stored in the body, but we can convert them to glycogen for storage during the breakdown process for excretion. Also, in terms of energy, it's a more efficient process than converting FA's to glycogen for storage.

  3. soccerman93

    This is where biochem comes in handy. Czarcasm gives a really good in depth answer, but a simpler approach is to count carbons. The first step of gluconeogenesis(formation of glucose) requires pyruvate, a 3 carbon molecule. Acetyl Co-A is a 2 carbon molecule, and most animals lack the enzymes (malate synthase and isocitrate lyase) required to convert acetyl co-A into a 3 carbon molecule suitable for the gluconeogenesis pathway. The ketogenic pathway is not efficient, as czarcasm pointed out. While acetyl co-A can indeed be used to form citric acid intermediates, these intermediates will be used in forming ATP, not glucose. Fatty acid oxidation does not yield suitable amounts of pyruvate, which is required for gluconeogenesis. This is part of why losing weight is fairly difficult for those that are overweight, we can't efficiently directly convert fat to glucose, which we need a fairly constant supply of. Sorry, that got a little long-winded

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Why We Can't Produce Glucose From Fat ? | Yahoo Answers

Are you sure you want to delete this answer? Best Answer: Fats are metabolized to acetyl-CoA. This molecule then enters the citric acid cycle when it is combined with oxaloacetate to make citrate. Further reactions degrade it to CO2 and produce NADH, FADH2, and GTP. For a molecule entering the cycle to produce sugar requires the net production of oxaloacetate. But for each acetyl-CoA that enters the cycle, two molecules of CO2 are produced, hence it just drives the cycle and doesn't produce anything but CO2. To produce oxaloacetate from acetyl-CoA (thereby using fat to make sugar, because oxaloacetate can undergo what is essentially reverse glycolysis and is dubbed gluconeogenesis) requires the glyoxylate shunt, which is a pathway that does not occur in humans. Wikipedia's article isn't bad: If you look at calories as units of potential energy, then fat has double plus the energy of glucose at 9 calories per gram of fat versus 4 for carbohydrates. Anyone who said glucose is WRONG. Glucose is a Sugar derivative fat is generaly either Ester, Glycerol or fatty Acids. or a mixture of them all. glucose is made from your body converting suger. We can. Fats can be burned to acetyl-CoA. I Continue reading >>

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  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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We Really Can Make Glucose From Fatty Acids After All!

Biochemistry textbooks generally tell us that we can't turn fatty acids into glucose. For example, on page 634 of the 2006 and 2008 editions of Biochemistry by Berg, Tymoczko, and Stryer, we find the following: Animals Cannot Convert Fatty Acids to Glucose It is important to note that animals are unable to effect the net synthesis of glucose from fatty acids. Specficially, acetyl CoA cannot be converted into pyruvate or oxaloacetate in animals. In fact this is so important that it should be written in italics and have its own bold heading! But it's not quite right. Making glucose from fatty acids is low-paying work. It's not the type of alchemy that would allow us to build imperial palaces out of sugar cubes or offer hourly sweet sacrifices upon the altar of the glorious god of glucose (God forbid!). But it can be done, and it'll help pay the bills when times are tight. I don't think any is converted for anyone not in ketosis. I read through the steps and it requires inputs only present in ketosis - i.e., the textbooks were correct for something like 99% of the population. In their day, they were probably correct for just about everyone except people starving from lack of food or 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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