The concentrations of glycolytic intermediates and adenine nucleotides were determined in erythrocytes from patients with diabetic ketoacidosis before and during insulin treatment. Ketoacidosis resulted in an increase in the levels of intermediates above the phosphofructokinase (PFK) step and a marked decrease in the levels of those below this step. Thus, a “crossover” point was seen at the PFK step in a crossover plot. This indicated that the rate of glycolytic flow during ketoacidosis was controlled by PFK and that the reduced level of 2,3-bisphosphoglycerate (2, 3-BPG) was attributed to the inhibition of this enzyme. In vitro studies revealed that acidemia is mainly responsible for the inhibition of PFK, whereas elevated levels of ketone bodies and free fatty acids have no direct bearing on it.
Insulin administration produced hypophosphatemia within 8–12 h and it persisted for 24 h or longer. The levels of fructose-6-phosphate and glucose-6-phosphate were decreased transiently during this hypophosphatemic phase, while those of fructose bisphosphate and triose phosphates were increased. This indicated that PFK was activated. Thus, it is no longer reasonable to think that the inhibition of PFK is a factor responsible for a delay in normalization of the 2, 3-BPG level during the recovery phase. The levels of these glycolytic intermediates, including 2, 3-BPG, were normalized within 4 days by appropriate therapy.