Oxygen dependent mitochondrial formate production and the reverse Pasteur effect

Johannes Meiser, Alexei Vazquez

Research output: Working paperPreprint


The Pasteur effect dictates that oxygen induces respiration and represses fermentation. However, we have shown that oxygen stimulates mitochondrial formate production and excess formate production induces glycolysis in mammalian cells. Our observations suggest the hypothesis that increased respiration induces an increase, rather than a decrease, of fermentation, the reverse Pasteur effect. Using a mathematical model we show that, in the absence of mitochondrial formate production, we should always observe the Pasteur effect, a reduction in fermentation with increasing respiration. However, in cells with active mitochondrial formate production, the rate of fermentation first increases with increasing the rate of respiration, indicating a metabolic sweet spot at moderate oxygen availability that is within the range of tissue oxygen tensions. We provide experimental evidence for the manifestation of the reverse Pasteur effect at such oxygen tension. ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 10 Apr 2020


  • biochemistry


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