Iron positively regulates other enzymes in the citric acid cycle besides aconitase

Besides aconitase iron positively affects three other citric acid cycle enzymes, the enzymes being citrate synthase, isocitric dehydrogenase synthase and and succinate dehydrogenase.

Iron-dependent changes in cellular energy metabolism: influence on citric acid cycle and oxidative phosphorylation

Horst Oexle, Erich Gnaiger and Gunter Weiss Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) – Bioenergetics


Iron modulates the expression of the critical citric acid cycle enzyme aconitase via a translational mechanism involving iron regulatory proteins. Thus, the present study was undertaken to investigate the consequences of iron perturbation on citric acid cycle activity, oxidative phosphorylation and mitochondrial respiration in the human cell line K-562. In agreement with previous data iron increases the activity of mitochondrial aconitase while it is reduced upon addition of the iron chelator desferrioxamine (DFO). Interestingly, iron also positively affects three other citric acid cycle enzymes, namely citrate synthase, isocitric dehydrogenase, and succinate dehydrogenase, while DFO decreases the activity of these enzymes. Consequently, iron supplementation results in increased formation of reducing equivalents (NADH) by the citric acid cycle, and thus in increased mitochondrial oxygen consumption and ATP formation via oxidative phosphorylation as shown herein. This in turn leads to downregulation of glucose utilization. In contrast, all these metabolic pathways are reduced upon iron depletion, and thus glycolysis and lactate formation are significantly increased in order to compensate for the decrease in ATP production via oxidative phosphorylation in the presence of DFO. Our results point to a complex interaction between iron homeostasis, oxygen supply and cellular energy metabolism in human cells.

Inhibition of TCA cycle at the aconitase step could be associated with obesity

J. Theor Biol 2003 Nov 7;225(1):33-44
Wlodek D. and Gonzalez M.


Obesity has reached epidemic proportions and has become one of the major health problems in developed countries. Current theories consider obesity a result of overeating and sedentary life style and most efforts to treat or prevent weight gain concentrate on exercise and food intake. This approach does not improve the situation as may be seen from the steep increase in the prevalence of obesity. This encouraged us to reanalyse existing information and look for biochemical basis of obesity. Our approach was to ignore current theories and concentrate on experimental data which are described in scientific journals and are available from several databases. We developed and applied a Knowledge Discovery in Databases procedure to analyse metabolic data. We began with the contradictory information: in obesity, more calories are consumed than used up, suggesting that obese people should have excess energy. On the other side, obese people experience fatigue and decreased physical endurance that indicates diminished energy supply in the body. The result of our work is a chain of metabolic events leading to obesity. The crucial event is the inhibition of the TCA cycle at the step of aconitase. It disturbs energy metabolism and results in ATP deficiency with simultaneous fat accumulation. Further steps in obesity development are the consequences of diminished energy supply: inhibition of beta-oxidation, leptin resistance, increase in appetite and food intake and a decrease in physical activity. Thus, our theory shows that obesity does not have to be caused by overeating and sedentary life-style but may be the result of the “obese” change in metabolism which is forcing people to overeat and save energy to sustain metabolic functions of cells. This “obese” change is caused by environmental factors that activate chronic low-grade inflammatory process in the body linking obesity with the environment of developed countries.