Contribution of Anaerobic Energy Expenditure to Whole Body Thermogenesis

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Nutrition & Metabolism


Oxygen Uptake, Heat Production, Entropy Production, Lactate Production, Respiratory Exchange Ratio


Heat production serves as the standard measurement for the determination of energy expenditure and efficiency in animals. Estimations of metabolic heat production have traditionally focused on gas exchange (oxygen uptake and carbon dioxide production) although direct heat measurements may include an anaerobic component particularly when carbohydrate is oxidized. Stoichiometric interpretations of the ratio of carbon dioxide production to oxygen uptake suggest that both anaerobic and aerobic heat production and, by inference, all energy expenditure – can be accounted for with a measurement of oxygen uptake as 21.1 kJ per liter of oxygen. This manuscript incorporates contemporary bioenergetic interpretations of anaerobic and aerobic ATP turnover to promote the independence of these disparate types of metabolic energy transfer: each has different reactants and products, uses dissimilar enzymes, involves different types of biochemical reactions, takes place in separate cellular compartments, exploits different types of gradients and ultimately each operates with distinct efficiency. The 21.1 kJ per liter of oxygen for carbohydrate oxidation includes a small anaerobic heat component as part of anaerobic energy transfer. Faster rates of ATP turnover that exceed mitochondrial respiration and that are supported by rapid glycolytic phosphorylation with lactate production result in heat production that is independent of oxygen uptake. Simultaneous direct and indirect calorimetry has revealed that this anaerobic heat does not disappear when lactate is later oxidized and so oxygen uptake does not adequately measure anaerobic efficiency or energy expenditure (as was suggested by the "oxygen debt" hypothesis). An estimate of anaerobic energy transfer supplements the measurement of oxygen uptake and may improve the interpretation of whole-body energy expenditure.


© 2005 Scott; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.