Ditlecadet, D.; Short, C.E.; Driedzic, W.R. (2011). Glycerol loss to water exceeds glycerol catabolism via glycerol kinase in freeze resistant rainbow smelt (Osmerus mordax). American Journal Of Physiology- Regulatory, Integrative And Comparative Physiology. 300 (3) R674-R684.
Rainbow smelt accumulate high amounts of glycerol in winter. In smelt, there is a predictable profile of plasma glycerol levels that starts to increase in November (< 5 mu mol/ml), peaks in mid-February (> 200 mu mol/ml), and thereafter decreases to reach the initial levels in the beginning of May. The aim of this study was to investigate the respective role of the two main mechanisms that might be involved in glycerol clearance from mid-February: 1) breakdown of glycerol to glycerol-3-phosphate through the action of the glycerol kinase (GK) and 2) direct loss toward the environment. Over the entire glycerol cycle, loss to water represents a daily loss of similar to 10% of the total glycerol content of fish. GK activities were very low in all tissues investigated and likely have a minor quantitative role in the glycerol cycle. These results suggest that glycerol levels are dictated by the rate of glycerol synthesis (accelerated and deactivated during the accumulation and decrease stages, respectively). Although not important in glycerol clearance, GK in liver might have an important metabolic function for other purposes, such as gluconeogenesis, as evidenced by the significant increase of activity at the end of the cycle.