A colorless, water-soluble, organic liquid produced by the breakdown of carbohydrates and sugars during glycolysis, and with a chemical formula of: CH3COCO2H.
If oxygen is available, pyruvic acid is converted to acetyl coenzyme A that enters the energy-producing pathway, the Krebs cycle. If oxygen is lacking, pyruvic acid is converted to lactic acid.
This compound is also used in the body to synthesize alanine.
Word origin: PYR(O)– + Latin ūva, grape (from its being produced by the dry distillation of racemic acid, originally derived from grapes) + –IC.
Synonym: acetylformic acid, pyroracemic acid.
See also: pyruvate, glycolysis, cellular respiration.