We have thousands of cells constantly performing tasks throughout our bodies. However, in order to properly function, each one of these cells must derive its energy from somewhere. To properly obtain the energy needed, a series of energy-dependent chemical reactions occur. The energy being referred to is adenosine triphosphate, better known as ATP. The human body creates ATP so abundantly that it has been said each individual turns over their body weight in ATP each and every day.
Where Is Energy Created?
Almost all ATP is produced in the mitochondria housed in the muscle, brain, liver, heart, and GI tract. The mitochondria is an organelle found within a cell. Although many know the mitochondria by its nick-name, “the powerhouse of the cell” it has more duties than just energy production. For example, the mitochondria also plays a role in apoptosis, metabolism, and the synthesis of iron-sulfur clusters. To make energy, the body requires proteins, carbohydrates, and lipids. These macronutrients are all capable of being catabolized and stored in chemical bonds converted to ATP.
The Krebs Cycle
The Krebs Cycle was named after Hans Krebs who discovered this process in 1937. Similarly, the Krebs Cycle is also referred to as the Citric Acid Cycle and TCA (Tricarboxylic Acid Cycle). The purpose of the Krebs Cycle is to link the anaerobic and aerobic phases of metabolism in order to maximize ATP re-synthesis. However, the Krebs Cycle does more than generate ATP. The Krebs Cycle also reduces equivalents in the form of NADH. This is essential as reducing equivalents such as NADH and FADH2 are essential for our cells to maintain appropriate redox status.
How Does The Krebs Cycle Work?
Step 1: The introduction of 2 carbons presented as acetyl-CoA. From here, a proton is lost by the methyl carbon of acetyl-CoA. This reaction generates citroyl-CoA. Citroyl-CoA is an unstable intermediate. This intermediate becomes hydrolyzed from the enzyme and yields citrate.
Step 2: This step involves changing citrate to isocitrate. It is first dehydrated. Water is later added back to the reaction and isocitrate is released from the enzyme.
Step 3: Isocitrate is dehydrated and losses a hydrogen and hydride ion. This is the transfer of electrons from isocitrate to NAD+ which is later reduced to form the first NADH molecule. This gives us an enzyme-bound intermediate, oxalosuccinate. Oxalosuccinate then decarboxylates and is released by the enzyme. Some atoms are lost here and become carbon dioxide. The NADH that was formed in this essential step transports electrons to the ETC.
Step 4: A multienzyme complex is used here and requires five co-enzymes. These co-enzymes include thiamine pyrophosphate, lipoic acid, coenzyme A, FAD, and NAD+. The product of this reaction is succinyl-CoA. Finally, the 4-carbon succinyl-CoA will be rearranged leading to a low energy molecule. The energy that is released is harnessed for the creation of NADH, GADH2, and ATP.
Step 5: This step uses the potential energy of succinyl-CoA to drive the formation of guanosine triphosphate. GTP is isoenergetic with ATP and can be used to resynthesize ATP with the help of a phosphate group.
Step 6: Succinate is now dehydrogenated to form fumarate. This reaction is FAD dependent. FAD is more powerful for oxidation than NAD+. Water is added to fumarate and eliminates a double bond forming L-malate.
Step 7: Loss of H+ and H- allows oxaloacetate to join with acetyl-CoA to form a six-carbon citrate molecule and begin the cycle again.
The Krebs Cycle takes place in the mitochondrial matrix. It is essential for metabolism by capturing the chemical energy in bonds of Acetyl-CoA and getting the energy to the Electron Transport Chain (ETC) via co-enzymes. The ETC keeps the energy for resynthesis. Once the Krebs Cycle has generated the reduced co-enzymes NADH and FADH2, they transfer from the mitochondrial matrix to the mitochondrial membrane.
Generating Superoxide & Genetic Mishaps
To start the generation and production of superoxide, the ETC begins with the extraction of NADH and FADH2. These electrons are created by the Krebs Cycle referenced above. These electrons are passed down resulting in the reduction of O2 to water. As this process is occurring, protons are being pumped into the intermembrane space and an electrochemical gradient is formed. ATP synthase is utilized to drive ATP from ADP. If there is electron “leakage” during this step, there is the formation of superoxide anion.
The generation of superoxide radical has the potential to generate a range of reactive oxidative species. It is highly important that our cells regulate the activity and protect themselves. The SOD2 gene codes for the synthesis of the MnSOD enzyme. Some researchers consider the role it plays to be the “guardian of the powerhouse”.
For more information on Manganese superoxide dismutase, please review this article:
A specific test we use in our clinic to assess patients and their Krebs Cycle along with other micronutrient factors is the micronutrient test from SpectraCell. A sample report can be seen below:
Environmental Factors and Genes
In the last decade, research has been emerging that now scientifically shows the data between our genes and environmental factors. We have the ability to impact our genes in a positive manner and alter our future. We know that inflammation is linked to over 100+ degenerative health disorders, can impact the Krebs Cycle, and is related to neurodegenerative and autoimmune diseases. The nervous system is directly impacted by inflammation and the energy produced by the Krebs cycle. Environmental factors that not only affect our genes but our nervous system and the way we respond/react to incidents include toxins, chemicals, plastics, and inflammation caused by food sensitivities.
The nervous system used to be thought of as “fixed”, similar to our genes. However, we see now that by using chiropractic functional neurology and manual adjustments, we can trigger and modify specific sensory, motor, and cognitive experiences. By repetitively firing a pair of neurons, we produce communication between neurotransmitters. This sends neurotrophic growth factors back and eventually promotes a stable connection.
In a similar train of thought, we can alter the expression of our genes and Krebs Cycle output by reducing inflammation and controlling the food and substances we ingest. Starting in the kitchen, if we feed our bodies anti-inflammatory factors that our genes respond well to, we will see a significant shift in our health. We have the ability to assess your specific genetic factors and what dietary guidelines are best for you to follow. One test we use is from DNA life called DNA Diet. A sample of this report is shown below:
For more information regarding SNPs and genetic variants, please review this study performed:
It is becoming more and more prevalent that our environment and our lifestyles heavily influence the person we are. Many years ago we thought that if you were sick with an autoimmune condition that it was hardcoded in your genetics. However, now we are seeing the intense role that the food we eat and the preventative care we provide to our bodies, such as chiropractic adjustments are altering our genes and our future for the better. Reducing inflammation needs to happen internally and physically. By starting out with the kitchen and following these influencing factors all the way down to the genes, we see that we are able to make an impact down to our mitochondrial level, just by the proteins, fats, and carbohydrates we eat and how we help ourselves synthesize energy production. –Kenna Vaughn, Senior Health Coach
The scope of our information is limited to chiropractic, musculoskeletal, and nervous health issues or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions. We use functional health protocols to treat injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system. Our office has made a reasonable attempt to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research study or studies supporting our posts. We also make copies of supporting research studies available to the board and or the public upon request. To further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900.
Holley AK, Bakthavatchalu V, Velez-Roman JM, St Clair DK. Manganese superoxide dismutase: guardian of the powerhouse. Int J Mol Sci. 2011;12(10):7114‐7162. doi:10.3390/ijms12107114
Margach R. W. (2017). Chiropractic Functional Neurology: An Introduction. Integrative medicine (Encinitas, Calif.), 16(2), 44–45.
Guo X, Li D, Wu Y, et al. Genetic variants in genes of tricarboxylic acid cycle key enzymes are associated with prognosis of patients with non-small cell lung cancer. Lung Cancer. 2015;87(2):162‐168. doi:10.1016/j.lungcan.2014.12.005