Metabolic changes in the glucose-induced apoptotic blastocyst suggest alterations in mitochondrial physiology

Maggie M.Y. Chi, Amanda Hoehn, Kelle H. Moley

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61 Scopus citations


Mammalian preimplantation embryos experience a critical switch from an oxidative to a predominantly glycolytic metabolism. In this study, the change in nutrient metabolism between the 2-cell and blastocyst stages was followed by measuring single embryo concentrations of tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle and glycolytic metabolites with microfluorometric enzymatic cycling assays. When the normal values were established, further changes that occur as a result of the induction of apoptosis by exposure to high-glucose conditions were examined. From the 2-cell to the blastocyst stage, the embryos experienced an increase in TCA metabolites and a dramatic increase in fructose 1,6-bisphosphate (FBP). The high TCA metabolites may result from accumulation of substrate due to a slowing of TCA cycle metabolism as glycolysis predominates. Embryos exposed to elevated glucose conditions experienced significantly lower FBP, suggesting decreased glycolysis, significantly higher pyruvate, suggesting increased pyruvate uptake by the embryos in response to decreased glycolysis, and increased TCA metabolites, suggesting an inability to oxidize the pyruvate and a slowing of the TCA cycle. We speculate that the glycolytic changes lead to dysfunction of the outer mitochondrial membrane that results in the abnormal TCA metabolite pattern and triggers the apoptotic event.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E226-E232
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number2 46-2
StatePublished - 2002


  • Glycolysis
  • Preimplantation embryo
  • Programmed cell death
  • Tricarboxylic acid cycle


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