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Physiologic significance of glucocorticoids and insulin in the regulation of hepatic gluconeogenesis during starvation in rats

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DOI: 10.1016/0026-0495(76)90107-4
  • Biology


Abstract The physiologic significance of glucocorticoids and insulin in the regulation of hepatic gluconeogenesis was investigated during a 48-hr starvation period by studying the factors presumed to control the rate of glucose synthesis in the final gluconeogenetic pathway. Rats were used, in which glucocorticoids were removed by adrenalectomy before starvation, and in which serum insulin was kept constant before and after food withdrawal by prefeeding with a proteinfree diet. It was found that adrenalectomized rats at constantly low serum insulin levels responded to starvation as rapidly, and to the same degree, as intact control subjects (1) by a significant increase in plasma glucagon and, consequently, in hepatic cAMP concentration; (2) by a coordinate elevation of the activities of hepatic pyruvate carboxylase, P-enolpyruvate carboxykinase, and fructose-1,6-diphosphatase; (3) by systematic alterations in the concentration of effectors of gluconeogenetic key enzymes; (4) by a shifting of the cytoplasmic NAD system towards the reduced state; (5) by a decrease in the intrahepatic concentration of glycogenic precursor substrates. These results suggest that the hepatic gluconeogenic response to starvation with respect to the regulatory factors 1–5 occurs independently from changes in the concentration of plasma glucocorticoids and insulin. The crossing over of the gluconeogenetic intermediates between pyruvate and P-enolpyruvate (PEP), which was observed in intact but not in adrenalectomized rats, supports the assumption that during starvation, glucocorticoids enhance the rate of glucose production by the liver predominantly by permitting hepatic cAMP to stimulate the yet undefined mechanism, which has been demonstrated in the isolated perfused rat liver to control the substrate flow between pyruvate and PEP.

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