Mechanism of red cell 2,3-diphosphoglycerate increase in neonatal lambs

N. A. Noble, C. A.M. Jansen, P. W. Nathanielsz, K. R. Tanaka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The tenfold increase in red cell 2,3-diphosphoglycerate (DPG) concentration that occurs during the first 5 days of life in lambs is an important adaptation to extrauterine life. In lambs, DPG reduces hemoglobin oxygen affinity by the Bohr effect. Our data on 10 neonatal lambs suggest that the biochemical mechanism underlying this DPG increase involves the following: (1) a rise in plasma glucose from 40 to 100 mg/dl in the first 48 hr of life, which allows for increased glucose consumption in the highly glucose-permeable neonatal RBC; (2) a transitory rise in blood pH begins at birth, peaks at about 20 hr, and falls slightly; (3) the pH increase coincides with a threefold increase in RBC fructose-1,6-diphosphate (FDP) concentration due, we believe, to pH activation of phosphofructokinase; (4) glycolytic intermediates after the glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPD) step do not rise in the first 24 hr of life, possibly due to insufficient inorganic phosphate (Pi), a substrate of GAPD; (5) plasma Pi increases from about 7 mg/dl at birth to 11 mg/dl at 72 hr, activates the GAPD and FDP levels decline; and (6) the in vitro activity of the DPG synthetic enzyme, DPG mutase, is increased 12-fold in neonatal compared to adult RBC. We conclude that the postnatal rise in DPG is explained at least in part by the sequential effects of these metabolic changes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)920-924
Number of pages5
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1983
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Immunology
  • Hematology
  • Cell Biology


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