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Glucose (Molecule of the Month for March 2008)

Dextrose, Dextrose monohydrate , Hexose, Sugar

Glucose (Glc), a monosaccharide (or simple sugar), is an important carbohydrate in biology. The living cell uses it as a source of energy and metabolic intermediate. Glucose is one of the main products of photosynthesis and starts cellular respiration in both prokaryotes and eukaryotes. The name comes from the Greek word glykys (γλυκύς), which means "sweet", plus the suffix "-ose" which denotes a sugar. Two stereoisomers of the aldohexose sugars are known as glucose, only one of which (D-glucose) is biologically active. This form (D-glucose) is often referred to as dextrose monohydrate, or, especially in the food industry, simply dextrose (from dextrorotatory glucose). This article deals with the D-form of glucose. The mirror-image of the molecule, L-glucose, cannot be metabolized by cells in the biochemical process known as glycolysis.

Glucose is produced commercially via the enzymatic hydrolysis of starch. Many crops can be used as the source of starch. Maize, rice, wheat, potato, cassava, arrowroot, and sago are all used in various parts of the world. In the United States, cornstarch (from maize) is used almost exclusively.

Glucose is a ubiquitous fuel in biology. It is used as an energy source in most organisms, from bacteria to humans. Use of glucose may be by either aerobic or anaerobic respiration (fermentation). Carbohydrates are the human body's key source of energy, through aerobic respiration, providing approximately 3.75 kilocalories (16 kilojoules) of food energy per gram. Breakdown of carbohydrates (e.g. starch) yields mono- and disaccharides, most of which is glucose. Through glycolysis and later in the reactions of the Citric acid cycle (TCAC), glucose is oxidized to eventually form CO2 and water, yielding energy, mostly in the form of ATP. The insulin reaction, and other mechanisms, regulate the concentration of glucose in the blood. A high fasting blood sugar level is an indication of prediabetic and diabetic conditions. Glucose is a primary source of energy for the brain, and hence its availability influences psychological processes. When glucose is low, psychological processes requiring mental effort (e.g., self-control) are impaired. Glucose is critical in the production of proteins and in lipid metabolism. Also, in plants and most animals, it is a precursor for vitamin C (ascorbic acid) production. It is modified for use in these processes by the glycolysis pathway. Glucose is used as a precursor for the synthesis of several important substances. starch solution Starch, cellulose, and glycogen ("animal starch") are common glucose polymers (polysaccharides). Lactose, the predominant sugar in milk, is a glucose-galactose disaccharide. In sucrose, another important disaccharide, glucose is joined to fructose. These synthesis processes also rely on the phosphorylation of glucose through the first step of glycolysis.

Formal Chemical Name (IUPAC)



Picture of Glucose 3D model

click on the picture of  Glucose above to interact
with the 3D model of the
Glucose structure
(this will open a new browser window)

Picture of Glucose

C6 H12 O6

Update by Karl Harrison
(Molecule of the Month for March 2008 )

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