A Journey into Energy Metabolism

Energy metabolism, the exquisite dance of molecules that fuels life, is both a marvel of nature's engineering and a critical component of our existence. In this article, we delve into the profound relationship between energy metabolism and disease, offering a concise yet illuminating overview.


1. Concept of Energy Metabolism

energy metabolism related pathwaysEnergy metabolism is the process of generating energy (ATP) through anaerobic glycolysis and aerobic respiration of nutrients such as glucose and fatty acids, and it is also referred to as central carbon metabolism (CCM), which includes the glycolytic pathway (EMP), the tricarboxylic acid cycle (TCA), and the pentose phosphate pathway (PPP).


Glycolytic Pathway, also known as the EMP pathway, involves a series of reactions that break down glucose and glycogen into pyruvate, accompanied by ATP production. It is a universal pathway for glucose degradation found in all living organisms. The glycolytic pathway can occur under both anaerobic and aerobic conditions, serving as a common metabolic route for glucose breakdown.


TCA Cycle, also known as the tricarboxylic acid cycle or citric acid cycle, is a metabolic pathway prevalent in aerobic organisms and takes place in the mitochondria. It is the primary means by which organisms obtain energy, serving as the central hub connecting the metabolism of carbohydrates, lipids, and amino acids.


Pentose Phosphate Pathway (PPP) is one way in which glucose undergoes oxidative breakdown. It is also known as the hexose monophosphate shunt since it begins with glucose-6-phosphate (G-6-P).


2. Diseases Associated with Energy Metabolism

1) Cancer

Tumor cells exhibit significant metabolic differences compared to normal cells. They require a substantial amount of nutrients and energy to sustain rapid proliferation, leading to distinct metabolic characteristics.


2) Metabolic Diseases

These refer to conditions where disruptions in metabolic processes result in the accumulation or deficiency of certain metabolites, such as carbohydrates, amino acids, fatty acids, and hormones.


3) Cardiovascular Diseases

The heart is a high-energy-consuming organ that relies on various substrates, including carbohydrates, fatty acids, amino acids, lactate, and ketone bodies, to fulfill its functions. The choice of substrates changes with fluctuations in substrate concentrations and stress states within the circulation. Different cardiovascular diseases are associated with varying alterations in energy metabolism, which can contribute to the development of heart-related conditions.


4) Immune Diseases

Immune responses often involve the rapid proliferation and activation of certain immune cells. Activated immune cells, such as B cells, T cells, and various subsets of innate immune cells, rely on altered energy metabolism to differentiate and expand, enabling them to perform their functions effectively. In our previous blog post, we shared a study on the regulatory mechanisms of energy metabolism in T-cell function. The authors utilized our proprietary energy-targeted metabolism detection method and reported on more than 50 energy metabolites.


5) Neurological Diseases

Currently, the most extensively studied neurological diseases in the context of energy metabolism are Alzheimer's disease (AD) and Parkinson's disease (PD). In AD, glucose is primarily utilized for energy production by neurons and glial cells during resting states. However, during neuronal activity, neurons mainly use lactate produced by astrocytes through glycolysis. This lactate is then oxidized by neurons to generate glutamate, which stimulates astrocytes to continue supplying glucose as a metabolic substrate. PD is primarily associated with lipid peroxidation and reduced activity of the alpha-ketoglutarate dehydrogenase complex.


In the intricate dance of energy metabolism and its connection to diseases, we uncover the potential to revolutionize medicine and health, offering personalized treatments and innovative solutions for a brighter, healthier future.



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