The effects of methylenecyclopropylglycine (MCPG), the lower homologue of hypoglycin A, on starved rats are described. Upon oral ingestion of MCPG (43 mg/kg), a 50% decrease in blood glucose compared with controls was observed after 4 h. The plasma concentrations of lactate and non-esterified fatty acids were substantially increased during this period. The activity of general acyl-CoA dehydrogenase from isolated rat liver mitochondria was not significantly changed. By contrast, the activity of 2-methyl-(branched-chain)-acyl-CoA dehydrogenase decreased by over 80%. The enzyme activity of enoyl-CoA hydratase (crotonase) from pig kidneys decreased by 80% on incubation with the hypothetically toxic metabolite of MCPG, methylenecyclopropylformyl-CoA. These results suggest that the inhibition spectrum of MCPG is quite different from that of hypoglycin A and that similar physiological effects might result from inhibition of different enzymes of beta-oxidation, e.g. hypoglycaemia and lacticacidemia. Accumulation of medium-chain acyl-CoA thioesters is probably at the origin of disturbances in pyruvate metabolism.

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