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Introduction to Glucose Metabolism
Glucose metabolism refers to all the processes that are involved in either breaking down glucose or reforming glucose. Glycolysis is the break down of glucose into pyruvate molecules and ATP molecules, among other things. It occurs within the cytoplasm and does not require oxygen. This makes glucose an anaerobic process. In the absence of oxygen, the pyruvate molecules formed during glycolysis will undergo a process called fermentation. Some cells use alcohol fermentation to transform the pyruvate into ethanol. Other cells use lactic acid fermentation to transform glucose into lactic acid (or lactate, its conjugate base). Under aerobic conditions, the pyruvate molecules will make their way into the mitochondria, where they will undergo pyruvate decarboxylation and the citric acid cycle (also called the Krebs cycle) to produce carbon dioxide and many ATP molecules. The processes of glycolysis, pyruvate decarboxylation and the Krebs cycle make up aerobic cellular respiration. When the energy supply within the cell is plentiful, our cells will transform the glucose into glycogen. At the same time, the cell will also transform the pyruvate and lactic acid back into glucose via a process called gluconeogenesis. Gluconeogenesis and glycolysis usually do not take place at the same time; when one is turned on, the other one is turned off. In order to break down the polysaccharides that make their way into our body via ingestion of food, our body produces and uses many digestive enzymes. Some of these enzymes include salivary and pancreatic alpha-amylase, maltase, sucrase, lactase, alpha-dextrinase and alpha-glucosidase,
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