Carbohydrate Metabolism


    THE breakdown of the carbohydrates found in the body, namely, glycogen and glucose, resulting in their final oxidation into carbon dioxide and water and the liberation of the energy stored in their molecules, takes place by stages, the details of which are still imperfectly known. It appears probable that a compound of glucose with phosphoric acid forms an intermediate stage in the conversion of glycogen into glucose, while lactic and pyruvic acids are intermediate products in the conversion of the glucose into carbon dioxide. In the case of striped muscle, the process, as far as the formation of lactic acid, is reversible (Emden, Meyerhof, etc.). Now although the monosaccharides formed in the course of digestion are absorbed and converted into glycogen in the liver, in the reverse process only glucose is produced, suggesting that this sugar has some peculiarity of structure which enables the cells of the body to utilise it, in preference to the others: enzymes are probably concerned in the process, and one of the characteristics of their action is their specificity.

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    Carbohydrate Metabolism. Nature 115, 137 (1925).

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