The proportion of active (dephosphorylated) pyruvate dehydrogenase in perfused rat heart was decreased by alloxan-diabetes or by perfusion with media containing acetate, n-octanoate or palmitate. The total activity of the dehydrogenase was unchanged. 2. Pyruvate (5 or 25mM) or dichloroacetate (1mM) increased the proportion of active (dephosphorylated) pyruvate dehydrogenase in perfused rat heart, presumably by inhibiting the pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase reaction. Alloxan-diabetes markedly decreased the proportion of active dehydrogenase in hearts perfused with pyruvate or dichloroacetate. 3. The total activity of pyruvate dehydrogenase in mitochondria prepared from rat heart was unchanged by diabetes. Incubation of mitochondria with 2-oxo-glutarate plus malate increased ATP and NADH concentrations and decreased the proportion of active pyruvate dehydrogenase. The decrease in active dehydrogenase was somewhat greater in mitochondria prepared from hearts of diabetic rats than in those from hearts of non-diabetic rats. Pyruvate (0.1-10 mM) or dichloroacetate (4-50 muM) increased the proportion of active dehydrogenase in isolated mitochondria presumably by inhibition of the pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase reaction. They were much less effective in mitochondria from the hearts of diabetic rats than in those of non-diabetic rats. 4. The matrix water space was increased in preparations of mitochondria from hearts of diabetic rats. Dichloroacetate was concentrated in the matrix water of mitochondria of non-diabetic rats (approx. 16-fold at 10 muM); mitochondria from hearts of diabetic rats concentrated dichloroacetate less effectively. 5. The pyruvate dehydrogenase phosphate phosphatase activity of rat hearts and of rat heart mitochondria (approx. 1-2 munit/unit of pyruvate dehydrogenase) was not affected by diabetes. 6. The rate of oxidation of [1-14C]pyruvate by rat heart mitochondria (6.85 nmol/min per mg of protein with 50 muM-pyruvate) was approx. 46% of the Vmax. value of extracted pyruvate dehydrogenase (active form). Palmitoyl-L-carnitine, which increased the ratio of [acetyl-CoA]/[CoA] 16-fold, inhibited oxidation of pyruvate by about 90% without changing the proportion of active pyruvate dehydrogenase.

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