D-ribose and ATP production

This page focuses on the sugar d-ribose, and its role in the production of ATP within the body.

Whilst quite technical in nature, we hope it will increase knowledge and understanding of the science behind taking d-ribose as a health supplement.

We must first look at ATP before introducing the role of d-ribose.

What is Adenosine Triphoshate (ATP)?

ATP (adenosine triphosphate) is an energy driving nucleotide generated by a cells mitochondria (often referred to as the power house of the cell).

ATP Is A Nucleotide

Nucleotides are bonded molecules which form the structure of DNA and RNA.
ATP (adenosine triphosphate ) is a building block of DNA and RNA. D-ribose is a main component of RNA. Nucleotides are also required for metabolism in which energy is released.

ATP & Metabolism

Metabolism refers to the process of physical movement and the chemical reactions within the body in order to maintain life. Found within all cells of the body, ATP is broken down and recreated providing energy for metabolism.

To understand the role of ribose on ATP production it is important to look to at the molecular structure of ATP.

ATP Structural Formula

The molecular formula of adenosine triphosphate is C10H16N5O13P3.

The adenosine part of ATP is comprised of 1 adenine molecule to 5 carbon sugar molecules (ribose). The triphosphate part of ATP refers to 3 phosphate molecules.

ATP Energy Release - Phosphate Molecules Break Away

For energy release, a phosphate molecule breaks away from an ATP nucleotide.

When one molecule breaks off, the ATP nucleotide becomes 1 phosphate molecule less and is known as ADP (adenosine diphosphate).

If another phosphate molecule breaks off for energy release from the ADP nucleotide, the ADP nucleotide is one phosphate less and becomes AMP (adenosine monophosphate).

Energy Release Changes The Ratio Of AMP ADP & AMP Nucleotides

Due to the energy requirement of metabolism and the breaking away of phosphate molecules, there is an ever changing ratio of AMP, ADP and AMP nucleotides within the body's cells.

The ratio of ATP:ADP:AMP is critical for regulating a cells energy capacity.

Anaerobic Exercise Changes The ATP:ADP:AMP Ratio

High intensity exercise, which produces anaerobic metabolism, can sway the ratio giving a reduction in ATP. This can set off a chain of events with the consequence of a reduction in performance and recovery.

The Body Tries to Restore The ATP:ADP:AMP Ratio

When ATP levels fall in relation to ADP and AMP levels, nucleotides are lost from the cells to restore the ratio. In a further effort to restore the ratio, 2 ADP molecules combine to form 1 ATP and 1AMP (through a 'myokinase reaction').

When these molecules combine, this sets a high ratio of AMP nucleotides. To restore balance, AMP nucleotides are reduced to simpler molecules which are then taken from the cell.

And Finally The Role Of D-ribose and ATP

A fall in the cells nucleotides leads to a reduction in performance and recovery. More ATP (adenosine triphosphate) must be produced to restore the ratio.

This is where d-ribose taken as a supplement can be of benefit as it reduces the time to recreate adenosine nucleotides, fueling ATP synthesis.

Normally ATP is produced by the body using the 'pentose phosphate pathway' which metabolizes glucose to ribose-5-phosphate. However, this pathway is rate limiting and it can take time to produce ribose.

By supplementing the body with d-ribose, the time it takes to recreate the adenosine nucleotide is reduced. As a supplement, D-ribose can be of benefit to people who exercise including body builders and athletes.