The first idea that comes to mind is that as the ATP levels drop, the body needs to convert that energy to another type of ATP, which in turn is converted back into glucose for our use in muscle contraction.
According to an article published in 2004 in Nature, the ATP (adenosine triphosphate) molecule is essentially a two-step reaction. For example, the reaction that produces ATP in a cell involves 3 atoms of ATP in a chain known as an adenine-threonine protein bond, followed by two molecules of phosphorylated ATP called ATP-bound ADP.
As ATP-bound ADP is stored in the cells, the cell can use it for a variety of functions (such as energy production in muscle contraction) by converting ADP to ADP+. Another energy-producing pathway called the oxidative phosphorylation system is used in humans and other animals to break down carbohydrates (glucose or fructose) into pyruvic acid, which is then used for energy in muscle contraction.
But isn’t the reason that ADP- and glucose-derived glucose can be stored in the cells in large amounts rather than being recycled to generate ATP that is less the brain’s needs for energy? According to the World Health Organization, this occurs because as cells use carbohydrates to fuel their energy production, they generate ATP in the process. In fact, if you take a look at a rat’s metabolic rate graph, it looks like they’re constantly producing more metabolic energy, especially when the rodents are eating and exercising. However, it’s not clear why.
I remember reading a great review of this work (PDF) in 2001 on The New York Times websites. The author, Dr. Jeffrey Hall from the University of Utah School of Medicine, explains that most current research suggests that these glucose-derived glycerol and ADP-derived ADP levels are the major reasons for a decline in glucose use in the brain, and that a decline in their levels can be seen without any change in their ATP levels. As long as the glucose is stored in the cells, it can be used for energy, even if most of the time it’s not necessary for energy production. However, as ADP levels drop, it may be that brain cells are unable to use most of it for energy production, which can ultimately lead to a decline in glucose use and a decline in brain energy use.
The other idea about why some scientists think there is a link with aging is that the brain is
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