Carbohydrate metabolism in the developing rabbit was investigated for deficiencies that may be responsible for the failure of many preterm (281/2–291/2 day) animals to survive the first hours of life. The preterm animal shows an inability to reverse glycogenolysis or initiate gluconeogenesis from lactate or alanine in the first hours of life. This impairment, coupled with 50% less liver glycogen stores than the term animal, places the preterm animal at jeopardy for energy substrate early on in life. Unexpected was the early, rapid conversion of glycerol to glucose by the preterm animal. This ability seemed to be the primary difference in carbohydrate metabolism between the surviving and nonsurviving preterm rabbit.Summary
Speculation Impaired glyconeogenesis from lactate and alanine in the preterm animal coupled with active gluconeogenesis from glycerol suggests that substrates from lipolysis may be very important for early adaptation. Preterm animals endowed with limited fat stores, thus, minimal available glycerol, would be incapable of survival.