The metabolic effects of dichloroacetate

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91 Scopus citations


Dichloroacetate activates the pyruvate dehydrogenase complex of many tissues by inhibiting the kinase responsible for phosphorylation and inactivation of the complex. Dichloroacetate also activates the myocardial branched-chain α-keto acid dehydrogenase complex but apparently not by direct inhibition of the analogous kinase. Oxalate and glyoxylate, metabolites of dichloroacetate, are responsible for some in vitro effects of dichloroacetate. Dichloroacetate stimulates leucine oxidation by isolated hepatocytes because glyoxylate transaminates with leucine. Dichloroacetate inhibits lactate gluconeogenesis by hepatocytes incubated in low bicarbonate buffer because oxalate inhibits pyruvate carboxylase under such conditions. In vivo, dichloroacetate decreases blood glucose by limiting the supply of gluconeogenic precursors to the liver. This effect is a consequence of pyruvate dehydrogenase activation in peripheral tissues. Dichloroacetate lowers blood cholesterol in hyperlipidemic patients by uncertain means. Dichloroacetate has been tried experimentally in treatment of diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, and hyperlactatemia, but it has neurotoxicity, can cause cataracts, and may be mutagenic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1024-1039
Number of pages16
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1981

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology

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