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Metabolism. 1986 Jan;35(1):37-44.

Nitrogen conservation in starvation revisited: protein sparing with intravenous fructose.


The provision of small amounts of glucose during fasting is known to spare body protein and to attenuate markedly the metabolic response to starvation. These actions, which are not shared by fat, are generally thought to depend on the ability of exogenous glucose to stimulate insulin secretion. To determine whether fructose, a very weak insulin secretagogue, will also conserve nitrogen and alter the response to fasting, we infused small amounts of fructose, 100 g/d (375 kcal), into 7 obese subjects during a 10-day fast: 4 received fructose days 7 to 10, and 3 received fructose days 1 to 7. Fructose virtually abolished (all P less than 0.05-0.01) the fasting induced: (a) fall in glucose and insulin and rise in glucagon, (b) fall in triiodothyronine, (c) ketosis and acidosis, (d) increased ammonia excretion, (e) hyperuricemia (and hypouricosuria), and (f) fall in plasma alanine and rise in branched chain amino acids. Fructose also significantly reduced urinary sodium loss. Moreover, fructose exerted a prominent protein-sparing action, even though plasma insulin concentrations never exceeded postabsorptive levels. Excretion of total nitrogen was reduced by 40% to 50% during periods of fructose infusion, reflecting significant suppression of both urea and ammonia generation (all P less than 0.05-0.01). Most plasma glucogenic amino acids rose significantly during fructose administration. We conclude that low-dose fructose infusion essentially abolishes the entire hormone-substrate response to fasting, and spares body protein without raising insulin above postabsorptive levels.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

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