Background. The exercise capacity of patients with muscle phosphofructokinase deficiency is low and fluctuates from day to day. The basis of this variable exercise tolerance is unknown, but our patients with this disorder report that fatigue of active muscles is more rapid after a high-carbohydrate meal. Methods and Results. To determine the effect of carbohydrate on exercise performance, we asked four patients with muscle phosphofructokinase deficiency to perform cycle exercise under conditions of differing availability of substrate — i.e., after an overnight fast, and during an infusion of glucose or triglyceride (with 10 U of heparin per kilogram of body weight) after an overnight fast. As compared with fasting and the infusion of triglyceride with heparin, the glucose infusion lowered plasma levels of free fatty acids and ketones, reduced maximal work capacity by 60 to 70 percent, and lowered maximal oxygen consumption by 30 to 40 percent. Glucose also increased the relative intensity of submaximal exercise, as indicated by a higher heart rate at a given workload during exercise. The maximal cardiac output (i.e., oxygen delivery) was not affected by varying substrate availability, but the maximal systemic arteriovenous oxygen difference was significantly lower during glucose infusion (mean ±SE, ±0.3 ml per deciliter) than after fasting (7.6±0.4 ml per deciliter, P<0.05) or during the infusion of triglyceride with heparin (8.9±1.3 ml per deciliter, P<0.05). Conclusions. In muscle phosphofructokinase deficiency, the oxidative capacity of muscle and the capacity for aerobic exercise vary according to the availability of blood-borne fuels. We believe that glucose infusion lowers exercise tolerance by inhibiting lipolysis and thus depriving muscle of oxidative substrate (plasma free fatty acids and ketones); this impairs the capacity of working muscle to extract oxygen and lowers maximal oxygen consumption.
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