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J Mol Cell Cardiol. 1992 Aug;24(8):855-68.

Triacylglycerol metabolism in hypoxic, glucose-deprived rat cardiomyocytes.

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Department of Medical Physiology, University of Tromsø, Norway.


We have recently shown that a triacylglycerol (TG)-fatty acid cycle is operating in rat myocardial cells incubated in a hypoxic, glucose-containing incubation medium (Myrmel et al., 1991a). In the present study we investigated whether this cycle occurred in hypoxic, glucose-deprived myocytes, and whether high TG levels would increase TG-fatty acid cycling and thereby energy consumption. Myocytes with elevated contents of TG were obtained from the hearts of streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats (diabetic myocytes) and from normal rat myocytes prepared in the presence of oleic acid (TG-loaded myocytes). The TG content of diabetic and TG-loaded myocytes prior to hypoxic incubations was more than two times higher (P < 0.05) than that of their respective controls (123.8 +/- 20.6 and 125.3 +/- 12.7 vs 56.8 +/- 6.0 and 58.6 +/- 9.4 nmol/10(6) cells, mean +/- S.E., n = 7). Only diabetic and TG-loaded myocytes expressed marked reductions in TG content during glucose free incubations. There were no differences in TG-fatty acid cycling between the various myocyte groups, calculated as the difference between glycerol output and the concomitant decrease in TG (range: 36.7 +/- 8.1- 48.9 +/- 9.7 nmol TG/10(6) cells.2h). Apparently, the cycle was continuous throughout the whole incubation period despite falling ATP levels, contracture (rounding up) of myocytes, as well as cessation of glycogenolysis after about 40 min incubation. The cellular content of glycerol-3-phosphate, known to control TG-fatty acid cycling, increased continuously and to the same extent throughout the 2 h incubation period. Futile energy consumption associated with TG-fatty acid cycling, amounted to approximately 30% of total cellular energy consumption for the whole incubation period. In conclusion, hypoxic glucose deprived rat myocytes show TG-fatty-acid cycling, even after cessation of glycogenolysis. The extent of cycling, and thus the energy cost associated with it, was not influenced by the initial level of TG in the myocytes. We propose that glycerol-3-phosphate needed to fuel the TG-fatty acid cycle after exhaustion of the glycolytic supply is derived from phospholipid degradation.

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