Pyruvic acid

May 04, 2009
Image of Pyruvic acid 3D Image of Pyruvic acid

Pyruvic acid, the simplest α-ketoacid, plays a central role in sugar metabolism. It is the product of glycolysis, the anaerobic decomposition of glucose. In muscle, it is reduced to lactic acid during exertion. Pyruvic acid was featured in “Emergence” on PBS’s Nova program in 2007.

MOTW update:
December 14, 2020

Pyruvic acid was the Molecule of the Week for May 4, 2009. The simplest α-ketocarboxylic acid, it plays a central role in sugar metabolism. It is thus an important molecule in terrestrial life. Although pyruvic acid is not one of the >200 molecules detected thus far in outer space, Ralf I. Kaiser and colleagues at the University of Hawaii at Manoa (Honolulu) and Justus Liebig University (Giessen, Germany) report its potential for “abiotic organic synthesis in deep space”. They modeled its formation  “by barrierless recombination of hydroxycarbonyl (HOCO) and acetyl (CH3CO) radicals in ices of acetaldehyde (CH3CHO) and carbon dioxide (CO2)” under cosmic ray–driven interstellar conditions.

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