Pyruvate metabolism and the citric acid (TCA) cycle together link the processes of energy metabolism in a human cell with one another and with key biosynthetic reactions. Pyruvate, derived from the reversible oxidation of lactate or transamination of alanine, can be converted to acetyl CoA. Other sources of acetyl CoA include breakdown of free fatty acids and ketone bodies in the fasting state. Acetyl CoA can enter the citric acid cycle, a major source of reducing equivalents used to synthesize ATP, or enter biosynthetic pathways.
In addition to its role in energy generation, the citric acid cycle is a source of carbon skeletons for amino acid metabolism and other biosynthetic processes. One such process included here is the interconversion of 2-hydroxyglutarate, probably derived from porphyrin and amino acid metabolism, and 2-oxoglutarate (alpha-ketoglutarate), a citric acid cycle intermediate.