Succinate (or succinic acid) is an important metabolite that is involved in several chemical processes in the body. Succinic acid is a key intermediate of both the Kreb’s cycle and the electron transport chain that generates adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the currency for most of the body’s energy transactions.
Succinate is produced from bacterial degradation of unabsorbed glutamine and is a metabolite of alpha-ketogluturate, as well as methionine, valine & leucine; precursor of fumaric acid; also formed from bacterial action on glutamine.
Low levels may indicate the need for leucine/isoleucine supplementation.
The most common cause of elevated succinic acid is exposure to toxic chemicals which impairs mitochondria function.
Succinic acid is metabolized by the mitochondrial enzyme succinic dehydrogenase, which is significant in that it is both a Krebs cycle enzyme and a component- complex 2-of the mitochondrial electron transport chain, making this metabolite a marker of mitochondrial complex 2 as well as Krebs cycle dysfunction.
A sampling of toxic chemicals that have been associated with mitochondrial dysfunction include:
- 2, 4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2, 4-D),
- organophosphate pesticides,
- and lead. Approximately
95% of elevated succinic acid results are associated with toxic chemical exposure.
Other Krebs cycle markers may also be elevated when severe chemical toxicity is present. In general, the severity of the chemical toxicity is correlated with higher values of succinic acid.
Less common causes of elevated succinic acid are mitochondrial mutations which may be due to mutations in the nuclear or the mitochondrial DNA for mitochondrial proteins such as Kearns -Sayres disorder. Succinic acid is a metabolite of gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) so supplementation with GABA may also increase succinic acid.
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