Resonances for the ketone bodies 3-D-hydroxybutyrate, acetone and acetoacetate are readily detected in serum, plasma and urine samples from fasting and diabetic subjects by 1H n.m.r. spectroscopy at 400 MHz. Besides the simultaneous observation of metabolites, the major advantage of n.m.r. is that little or no pretreatment of samples is required. N.m.r. determinations of 3-D-hydroxybutyrate, acetoacetate, lactate, valine and alanine were compared with determinations made with conventional assays at six 2-hourly intervals after insulin withdrawal from a diabetic subject. The n.m.r. results closely paralleled those of other assays although, by n.m.r., acetoacetate levels continued to rise rather than reaching a plateau 4h after insulin withdrawal. The 3-D-hydroxybutyrate/acetoacetate ratio in urine during withdrawal gradually increased to the value observed in plasma (3.0 +/- 0.2) as determined by n.m.r. The acetoacetate/acetone ratio in urine (17 +/- 6) was much higher than in plasma (2.5 +/- 0.7). Depletion of a mobile pool of fatty acids in plasma during fasting, as seen by n.m.r., paralleled that seen during insulin withdrawal. These fatty acids were thought to be largely in chylomicrons, acylglycerols and lipoproteins, and were grossly elevated in plasma samples from a non-insulin-dependent diabetic and in cases of known hyperlipidaemia.
- © 1984 London: The Biochemical Society