, Volume 46, Issue 7, pp 917-925
Date: 18 Jun 2003

Direct and indirect effects of amino acids on hepatic glucose metabolism in humans

Abstract

Aim/hypothesis

The study was designed to examine the contribution of direct (substrate-mediated) and indirect (hormone-mediated) effects of amino acids on hepatic glucose metabolism in healthy men.

Methods

The protocols were: (i) CON+S (n=7): control conditions with somatostatin to inhibit endogenous hormone release resulting in fasting plasma concentrations of amino acids, insulin (~28 pmol/l) and glucagon (~65 ng/l), (ii) AA+S (n=7): amino acid infusion-fasting insulinaemia-fasting glucagonaemia, (iii) GLUC+S (n=6): fasting amino acids-fasting insulinaemia-hyperglucagonaemia (~99 ng/l) and (iv) AA-S (n=5): amino acid infusion without somatostatin resulting in amino acid-induced hyperinsulinaemia (~61 pmol/l)-hyperglucagonaemia (~147 ng/l). Net glycogenolysis was calculated from liver glycogen concentrations using 13C nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Total gluconeogenesis (GNG) was calculated by subtracting net glycogenolysis from endogenous glucose production (EGP) which was measured with [6,6-2H2]glucose. Net GNG was assessed with the 2H2O method.

Results

During AA+S and GLUC+S, plasma glucose increased by about 50% (p<0.01) due to a comparable rise in EGP. This was associated with a 53-% (p<0.05) and a 65% increase (p<0.01) of total and net GNG during AA+S, whereas net glycogenolysis rose by 70% (p<0.001) during GLUC+S. During AA-S, plasma glucose remained unchanged despite nearly-doubled (p<0.01) total GNG.

Conclusion/interpretation

Conditions of postprandial amino acid elevation stimulate secretion of insulin and glucagon without affecting glycaemia despite markedly increased gluconeogenesis. Impaired insulin secretion unmasks the direct gluconeogenic effect of amino acids and increases plasma glucose.