Pyruvate decarboxylation

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Pyruvate decarboxylation or pyruvate oxidation is the conversion of pyruvate into acetyl-CoA by the enzyme pyruvate dehydrogenase.[1][2]

Pyruvate dehydrogenase complex reaction

The reaction is:

1 pyruvate + 1 NAD+ + CoA → 1 acetyl-CoA + NADH + CO2 + H+

Pyruvate oxidation is the step that connects glycolysis and the Krebs cycle. Since in glycolysis a glucose molecule (6 carbons) is split into 2 pyruvates (3 carbons each), this process happens twice for every glucose. The 2 acetyl-CoA can then enter the Krebs cycle.

Fuel generating molecules such as amino acids and carbohydrates enter the Krebs Cycle as Acetyl Coenzyme A and oxidize in the cycle.[3] An enzyme called Pyruvate Dehydrogenase Complex (PDC) acts as a catalyst during oxidative decarboxylation of pyruvate and thereby results in synthesis of Acetyl-CoA, Carbon Dioxide, and NADH. It also oxidizes glucose by forming a linkage between the glycolytic pathway and oxidative pathway of Krebs Cycle. In eukaryotes, this enzyme complex regulates pyruvate metabolism and ensure homeostasis of glucose during the absorptive and post-absorptive state metabolism[4]. The Krebs Cycle occurs inside mitochondria so the pyruvate that was generated during glycolysis in the cytosol needs to enter the mitochondrial membrane.


  1. ^ "Pyruvate oxidation". Retrieved 25 January 2018.
  2. ^ "Pyruvate Oxidation". Retrieved 25 January 2018.
  3. ^ Stryer, Lubert; Tymoczko, John L.; Berg, Jeremy M. (2002). "The Citric Acid Cycle". Biochemistry. 5th edition.
  4. ^ Jordan, Frank; Furey, William; Nemeria, Natalia S.; Patel, Mulchand S. (2014-06-13). "The Pyruvate Dehydrogenase Complexes: Structure-based Function and Regulation". Journal of Biological Chemistry. 289 (24): 16615–16623. doi:10.1074/jbc.R114.563148. ISSN 1083-351X. PMID 24798336.