Role of the malate-aspartate shuttle on the metabolic response to myocardial ischemia

Ming Lu, Lufang Zhou, William C. Stanley, Marco E. Cabrera, Gerald M. Saidel, Xin Yu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


The malate-aspartate (M-A) shuttle provides an important mechanism to regulate glycolysis and lactate metabolism in the heart by transferring reducing equivalents from cytosol into mitochondria. However, experimental characterization of the M-A shuttle has been incomplete because of limitations in quantifying cytosolic and mitochondrial metabolites. In this study, we developed a multi-compartment model of cardiac metabolism with detailed presentation of the M-A shuttle to quantitatively predict non-observable fluxes and metabolite concentrations under normal and ischemic conditions in vivo. Model simulations predicted that the M-A shuttle is functionally localized to a subdomain that spans the mitochondrial and cytosolic spaces. With the onset of ischemia, the M-A shuttle flux rapidly decreased to a new steady state in proportion to the reduction in blood flow. Simulation results suggest that the reduced M-A shuttle flux during ischemia was not due to changes in shuttle-associated enzymes and transporters. However, there was a redistribution of shuttle-associated metabolites in both cytosol and mitochondria. Therefore, the dramatic acceleration in glycolysis and the switch to lactate production that occur immediately after the onset of ischemia is mediated by reduced M-A shuttle flux through metabolite redistribution of shuttle associated species across the mitochondrial membrane.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)466-475
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Theoretical Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 21 2008
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by a grant from NIGMS-NIH (GM-66309) establishing the Center for Modeling Integrated Metabolic Systems (MIMS). Dr. Yu was supported by grants from NHLBI (HL73315 and HL86935). Dr. Stanley was supported by a grant from NHLBI (HL-74237).


  • Malate-aspartate shuttle
  • Mathematical modeling
  • Metabolic compartmentation
  • Myocardial ischemia


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