1. The high oxygen affinity of fetal blood in rabbits is due to a very low concentration of 2,3-diphosphoglycerate (2,3-DPG) in the red cells. In order to gather informations on the factors responsible for this characteristic we have studied synthesis and breakdown of 2,3-DPG in fetal and adult rabbit red cells in vitro and examined possible regulative pathways which may lead to the low 2,3-DPG concentration in vivo. 2. Under conditions where 2,3-DPG and 3-phosphoglycerate (3-PGA) accumulate in adult erythrocytes, i.e. in a solution containing inosine, pyruvate and inorganic phosphate, the amount of 2,3-DPG synthetized in fetal red cells was only 40% of the adult value and 3-PGA was not measurable. Upon inhibition of enolase by NaF, however, both 2,3-DPG and 3-PGA increased to a similar extent in fetal and adult red cells. These findings point towards differences in the pyruvate kinase (PK) reaction which is one of the rate limiting steps of glycolysis. Direct measurements revealed an over tenfold higher PK activity in fetal compared to adult red cells. This higher activity of PK will lead to a decreased concentration of 3-PGA with a consecutive fall in 2,3-DPG concentration. 3. Other factors, like a decreased glucose utilization, a decreased activity of 2,3-DPG mutase or an increased 2,3-DPG phosphatase activity could be excluded as a cause for the low 2,3-DPG concentration in fetal red blood cells. The same holds for extraerythrocytic factors like glucose concentration or pH value in fetal blood. 4. During the postnatal development of rabbits the PK activity decreased. 50 days after birth, PK activity was 20% of the fetal value but still somewhat higher than in adult erythrocytes. This change is paralleled by an increase in 2,3-DPG concentration and half saturation oxygen pressure. With respect to the synthesis of 2,3-DPG and ATP, the fetal rabbit red cell is comparable to hereditary high PK activity in human erythrocytes.
Research Areas and Centers
- Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)