Difference Wiki

Pyruvate vs. Pyruvic Acid: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on December 21, 2023
Pyruvate is the ionized form of pyruvic acid, a key intermediate in several metabolic pathways; pyruvic acid is its undissociated, protonated form.

Key Differences

Pyruvate, the conjugate base of pyruvic acid, exists predominantly at physiological pH. Pyruvic acid is the protonated form, with an additional hydrogen ion.
Pyruvate is a critical energy currency in cellular metabolism, often produced by glycolysis. Pyruvic acid, while chemically similar, is less commonly referenced in biological systems due to its protonated state.
In solution, pyruvate readily accepts a proton to become pyruvic acid, especially in acidic conditions. Pyruvic acid, under more alkaline conditions, loses a proton to form pyruvate.
Pyruvate is often used in research and laboratory settings to study metabolic pathways. Pyruvic acid, though similar, is more often referenced in the context of its chemical properties.
In the body, pyruvate serves as a key link between different metabolic processes. Pyruvic acid, by contrast, is less commonly encountered but is important in understanding the chemistry of pyruvate.

Comparison Chart

Chemical Form

Ionized (C3H3O3-)
Protonated (C3H4O3)

PH Preference

More stable at physiological pH
More stable at acidic pH

Biological Significance

Central to metabolism
Less commonly referenced in biology

Presence in Cellular Pathways

Ubiquitous in energy production
Less prevalent due to its protonated state

Role in Research

Widely used in metabolic studies
Studied for its chemical properties

Pyruvate and Pyruvic Acid Definitions


An ionized form of pyruvic acid.
Cells convert glucose to pyruvate for energy.

Pyruvic Acid

Studied for its properties and behavior.
Researchers analyze how pyruvic acid transforms under different conditions.


A negatively charged ion in many biochemical reactions.
Enzymes convert pyruvate into other molecules.

Pyruvic Acid

The protonated version of pyruvate.
Pyruvic acid can donate a proton in chemical reactions.


A key compound in cellular respiration.
Pyruvate is formed in glycolysis and enters the Krebs cycle.

Pyruvic Acid

Used in organic synthesis and reactions.
In the lab, pyruvic acid reacts with various compounds.


Used in labs to study cellular metabolism.
Scientists use pyruvate in experiments to understand energy production.

Pyruvic Acid

A less common form of pyruvate in cells.
Pyruvic acid is converted to pyruvate in the cell.


A compound touted for potential health benefits.
Some athletes take pyruvate supplements for better performance.

Pyruvic Acid

A precursor to other biochemical substances.
Pyruvic acid is a starting point for synthesizing amino acids.


A salt or an ester of pyruvic acid.


(biochemistry) A salt or ester of pyruvic acid.


Is pyruvate present in food?

Pyruvate is not typically listed in food, but is formed during metabolism.

What is pyruvate?

Pyruvate is an ionized form of pyruvic acid, crucial in metabolism.

How is pyruvate produced in the body?

Pyruvate is produced by glycolysis from glucose.

What role does pyruvic acid play in metabolism?

Pyruvic acid can convert to pyruvate for use in metabolic pathways.

Can pyruvic acid be supplemented?

Pyruvic acid supplements exist, but their efficacy is debated.

Does pyruvate have health benefits?

Pyruvate is touted for potential health benefits, but evidence is limited.

What is pyruvic acid?

Pyruvic acid is the protonated form of pyruvate, important in biochemistry.

How do cells use pyruvic acid?

Cells primarily use the ionized form, pyruvate, in metabolism.

Is pyruvic acid stable in solution?

Pyruvic acid stability depends on the pH of the solution.

What happens to pyruvic acid in cells?

In cells, pyruvic acid often converts to pyruvate for metabolic processes.

Is pyruvate important for energy production?

Yes, pyruvate is a key intermediate in energy-producing pathways.

Is pyruvate used in fermentation?

Yes, pyruvate is involved in fermentation processes.

What are the sources of pyruvate in the diet?

Pyruvate is formed in the body from carbohydrates, not directly sourced from the diet.

What is the pH preference for pyruvate?

Pyruvate is stable at physiological pH levels.

Can pyruvic acid be measured in the lab?

Yes, pyruvic acid levels can be measured in biochemical assays.

Is pyruvic acid harmful?

Pyruvic acid is not harmful at normal physiological concentrations.

Can pyruvate enter the Krebs cycle?

Yes, pyruvate enters the Krebs cycle after conversion to acetyl-CoA.

How does pH affect pyruvic acid?

Pyruvic acid loses a proton and becomes pyruvate at higher pH.

Are pyruvate and pyruvic acid the same?

They are chemically related but differ in their protonation state.

Does pyruvate play a role in exercise physiology?

Pyruvate is important in muscle energy metabolism during exercise.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

Trending Comparisons

Popular Comparisons

New Comparisons