Glutamine and glucose metabolism in thymocytes from normal and spontaneously diabetic BB rats. Academic Article uri icon


  • Metabolism of glutamine and glucose was studied in thymocytes from normal rats and BB rats with the spontaneous autoimmune diabetic syndrome to assess their potential roles as fuels. The major measured products from glucose were lactate and, to a lesser extent, CO2, and pyruvate. Glutamine had no effect on the rates of their production from glucose. Glutamine was metabolized to ammonia, aspartate, glutamate, and CO2, with aspartate being the major product of carbons from glutamine in the absence of glucose. Glucose markedly decreased the formation of ammonia, aspartate, and CO2 from glutamine, but increased that of glutamate, with an overall decrease in glutamine utilization by 55%. More glutamate than aspartate was produced from glutamine in the presence of glucose. The potential production of ATP from glucose was similar to that when glutamine was present alone. However, glucose markedly decreased production of ATP from glutamine, but not vice versa. This resulted in ATP production from glucose being 2.5 times that from glutamine when both substrates were present. The oxidation of glucose to CO2 via the Krebs cycle accounts for 75-80% of glucose-derived ATP production. Cellular ATP levels markedly decreased in the absence of exogenous substrates, but were constant throughout a 2-h incubation in the presence of glutamine, glucose, or both. There were no differences in thymocyte glucose or glutamine metabolism between normal and diabetic BB rats, in contrast to previous findings in peripheral lymphoid organs. Our results suggest that glucose is a more important fuel than glutamine for "resting" thymocytes, again in contrast to the cells of peripheral lymphoid organs in which glutamine is as important as glucose as a fuel.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

published proceedings

  • Biochem Cell Biol

author list (cited authors)

  • Wu, G. Y., Field, C. J., & Marliss, E. B.

citation count

  • 9

complete list of authors

  • Wu, GY||Field, CJ||Marliss, EB

publication date

  • December 1991