Increased pyruvate dehydrogenase activity in skeletal muscle of growth-restricted ovine fetuses

Alexander L. Pendleton, Laurel R. Humphreys, Melissa A. Davis, Leticia E. Camacho, Miranda J. Anderson, Sean W. Limesand

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Fetal sheep with placental insufficiency-induced intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) have lower fractional rates of glucose oxidation and greater gluconeogenesis, indicating lactate shuttling between skeletal muscle and liver. Suppression of pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDH) activity was proposed because of greater pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase (PDK) 4 and PDK1 mRNA concentrations in IUGR muscle. Although PDK1 and PDK4 inhibit PDH activity to reduce pyruvate metabolism, PDH protein concentrations and activity have not been examined in skeletal muscle from IUGR fetuses. Therefore, we evaluated the protein concentrations and activity of PDH and the kinases and phosphatases that regulate PDH phosphorylation status in the semitendinosus muscle from placenta insufficiency-induced IUGR sheep fetuses and control fetuses. Immunoblots were performed for PDH, phosphorylated PDH (E1α), PDK1, PDK4, and pyruvate dehydrogenase phosphatase 1 and 2 (PDP1 and PDP2, respectively). Additionally, the PDH, lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), and citrate synthase (CS) enzymatic activities were measured. Phosphorylated PDH concentrations were 28% lower (P < 0.01) and PDH activity was 67% greater (P < 0.01) in IUGR fetal muscle compared with control. PDK1, PDK4, PDP1, PDP2, and PDH concentrations were not different between groups. CS and LDH activities were also unaffected. Contrary to the previous speculation, PDH activity was greater in skeletal muscle from IUGR fetuses, which parallels lower phosphorylated PDH. Therefore, greater expression of PDK1 and PDK4 mRNA did not translate to greater PDK1 or PDK4 protein concentrations or inhibition of PDH as proposed. Instead, these findings show greater PDH activity in IUGR fetal muscle, which indicates that alternative regulatory mechanisms are responsible for lower pyruvate catabolism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)R513-R520
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


Dive into the research topics of 'Increased pyruvate dehydrogenase activity in skeletal muscle of growth-restricted ovine fetuses'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this