Chemistry - Can ATP be synthesized and consumed?

Solution 1:

To answer the question in the title:

Yes, ATP can be synthesised, isolated and you can even eat it. It would be very expensive to do so but considering others put gold on most of their food that’s not a reason in itself not to. While eating too high a dose of ATP is not beneficial as per Paracelsus’ law, small amounts are certainly not harmful.

However, ATP is rarely shuffled into or out of cells. I’m not sure whether the human body provides mechanisms to shuffle ATP across cell membranes. I highly doubt it, since ATP is typically produced cell-internally by mitochondria and what gets shuffled around via the blood stream is primarily glucose. Most transport mechanisms are adopted to that.

Furthermore, even assuming that ATP does get shuffled across cell membranes in significant amounts, eating a crumb of it would first place it into the stomach. There, in the strongly acidic environment there is practically no way that ATP won’t get hydrolysed into first adenotine and diphosphate and then further broken down. Even if some of it magically manages to get through the stomach unharmed, the slightly alkline pH of the intestines are no better and the digestive tract is swarming with enzymes designed to break down practically everything. Thus, you can be sure that ATP has been fully metabolised before the body has a chance of taking it up into the blood stream.

Some of these problems can be overcome by injecting ATP subcutanously or intravenously but the problem with getting it into the cell remains.

Solution 2:

Expanding upon the comment above detailing how exogenous ATP isn't that great of an idea given the path of delivery, it's also important to note that our body focuses more on consumption, storage, and mobilization of fuels. The actual ATP production and utilization happens on a cell by cell basis, but fuels are moved around the entire body extracellularly.

Solution 3:

ATP is not very orally active as it is rapidly metabolized to adenosine and further to uric acid. There are many clinical trials that have used ATP by IV infusion at a rate of 50 microgram per kilogram per minute for up to 96+ hours. However both IV and oral administration has shown an increase in RBC concentrations of ATP. This is likely due to increased uptake of adenosine that is then converted into ATP.

The AIDS Cure Research Collaborative, Inc which is the organization that I am affiliated with is exploring the use of ATP in a comprehensive cure strategy for those infected with HIV. You have one molecule that can exert many effects. ATP produces a strong pro-inflammatory response while the generation of adenosine by the system exerts a strong anti-inflammatory effect. The field of purinergic signalling is fascinating and yet fully understood.