Monday, April 4, 2011


Glucose; (C6H12O6, also known as D-glucose, dextrose) is a simple sugar (monosaccharide) and an important carbohydrate in biology. Cells use it as a source of energy and a metabolic intermediate. Glucose is one of the main products of photosynthesis and starts cellular respiration.

The name "glucose" comes from the Greek word glukus (γλυκύς), meaning "sweet". The suffix "-ose" denotes a sugar. The name "dextrose" and the 'D-' prefix come from Latin dexter ("right"), referring to the handedness of the molecules.


Glucose is a basic necessity of many organisms, a correct understanding of its chemical makeup and structure contributed greatly to a general advancement in organic chemistry. This understanding occurred largely as a result of the investigations of Emil Fischer, a German chemist who received the 1902 Nobel Prize in Chemistry as a result of his findings. The synthesis of glucose established the structure of organic material and consequently formed the first definitive validation of Jacobus Henricus van't Hoff's theories of chemical kinetics and the arrangements of chemical bonds in carbon-bearing molecules. Between 1891 and 1894, Fischer established the stereochemical configuration of all the known sugars and correctly predicted the possible isomers, applying van't Hoff's theory of asymmetrical carbon atoms.

Structure and nomenclature

Glucose exists in several different structures, but all of these structures can be divided into two families of mirror-images (stereoisomers). Only one set of these isomers exists in nature, those derived from the "right-handed form" of glucose, denoted D-glucose. D-glucose is often referred to as dextrose.

The term dextrose is derived from dextrorotatory glucose. Solutions of dextrose rotate polarized light to the right (in Latin: dexter = "right"). Starch and cellulose are polymers derived from the dehydration of D-glucose. The other stereoisomer, called L-glucose, is hardly found in nature.

Glucose is a monosaccharide with formula C6H12O6 or H-(C=O)-(CHOH)5-H, whose five hydroxyl (OH) groups are arranged in a specific way along its six-carbon backbone. In its fleeting open-chain form, the glucose molecule has an open (as opposed to cyclic) and unbranched backbone of six carbon atoms, C-1 through C-6; where C-1 is part of an aldehyde group H(C=O)-, and each of the other five carbons bears one hydroxyl group -OH. The remaining bonds of the backbone carbons are satisfied by hydrogen atoms -H. Therefore glucose is an hexose and an aldose, or an aldohexose. Each of the four carbons C-2 through C-5 is chiral, meaning that its four bonds connect to four distinct parts of the molecule. (Carbon C-2, for example, connects to -(C=O)H, -OH, -H, and -(CHOH)4H.) In D-glucose, these four parts must be in a specific three-dimensional arrangement. Namely, when the molecule is drawn in the Fischer projection, the hydroxyls on C-2, C-4, and C-5 must be on the right side, while that on C-3 must be on the left side.


In plants and some prokaryotes, glucose is a product of photosynthesis. In animals and fungi, glucose results from the breakdown of glycogen, a process known as glycogenolysis. In plants the breakdown substrate is starch. In animals, glucose is synthesized in the liver and kidneys from non-carbohydrate intermediates, such as pyruvate and glycerol, by a process known as gluconeogenesis.

Energy Source

Glucose is a ubiquitous fuel in biology. It is used as an energy source in most organisms, from bacteria to humans. Use of glucose may be by either aerobic respiration, anaerobic respiration, or fermentation. Carbohydrates are the human body's key source of energy, through aerobic respiration, providing approximately 3.75 kilocalories (16 kilojoules) of food energy per gram. Breakdown of carbohydrates (e.g. starch) yields mono- and disaccharides, most of which is glucose. Through glycolysis and later in the reactions of the citric acid cycle (TCAC), glucose is oxidized to eventually form CO2 and water, yielding energy sources, mostly in the form of ATP. The insulin reaction, and other mechanisms, regulate the concentration of glucose in the blood. Glucose is a primary source of energy for the brain, and hence its availability influences psychological processes. When glucose is low, psychological processes requiring mental effort (e.g., self-control, effortful decision-making) are impaired.

Role In Glycolysis

Use of glucose as an energy source in cells is via aerobic or anaerobic respiration. Both of these start with the early steps of the glycolysis metabolic pathway. The first step of this is the phosphorylation of glucose by hexokinase to prepare it for later breakdown to provide energy. The major reason for the immediate phosphorylation of glucose by a hexokinase is to prevent diffusion out of the cell. The phosphorylation adds a charged phosphate group so the glucose 6-phosphate cannot easily cross the cell membrane. Irreversible first steps of a metabolic pathway are common for regulatory purposes. In anaerobic respiration one glucose molecule produces a net gain of 2 ATP molecules (4 ATP molecules are produced during glycolysis but 2 are required by enzymes used during the process). In aerobic respiration a molecule of glucose is much more profitable in that a net worth of 32 ATP molecules are generated (34 gross with 2 being required in the process).

Sources And Absorption

Most dietary carbohydrates contain glucose, either as their only building block, as in starch and glycogen, or together with another monosaccharide, as in sucrose and lactose. In the lumen of the duodenum and small intestine, the glucose oligo- and polysaccharides are broken down to monosaccharides by the pancreatic and intestinal glycosidases. Other polysaccharides cannot be processed by the human intestine and require assistance by intestinal flora if they are to be broken down; the most notable exceptions are sucrose (fructose-glucose) and lactose (galactose-glucose). Glucose is then transported across the apical membrane of the enterocytes by SLC5A1, and later across their basal membrane by SLC2A2. Some of the glucose is directly utilized as an energy source by brain cells, intestinal cells and red blood cells, while the rest reaches the liver, adipose tissue and muscle cells, where it is absorbed and stored as glycogen (under the influence of insulin). Liver cell glycogen can be converted to glucose and returned to the blood when insulin is low or absent; muscle cell glycogen is not returned to the blood because of a lack of enzymes. In fat cells, glucose is used to power reactions that synthesize some fat types and have other purposes. Glycogen is the body's 'glucose energy storage' mechanism because it is much more 'space efficient' and less reactive than glucose itself.

Concluding Remarks

Glucose is the bodies (and all Mammalians) major and most efficient fuel source for biological functions. The physiology possesses complicated biological processes to ensure constant supply of cellular energy. Investigation in to the energetic pathways of glucose metabolism suggests that anaerobic oxidation is much less glucose efficient then aerobic oxidation, and there for a more effective weight loss/modification modality for most people.

B.”EvilGenius” Chavez