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Biochem Soc Symp. 1978;(43):163-82.

Hormonal regulation of ketone-body metabolism in man.


The main hormones involved in ketone-body metabolism are the anabolic hormone insulin and the primarily catabolic hormones, glucagon, cortisol, catecholamines and growth hormone. These hormones may regulate ketone-body metabolism at three sites: adipose tissue, by regulating fatty acid supply to the liver; the liver itself, by determining the relative activities of the re-esterification and fatty acid oxidation pathways; and the periphery, by influencing the rate of extrahepatic utilization of ketone bodies. The first two are quantitatively the most important. Insulin acts on all three regulatory sites. In adipose tissue lipolysis is inhibited and re-esterification enhanced with consequent decrease of fatty acid release. Both these processes are extremely insulin-sensitive. In the liver insulin increases fatty acid synthesis and esterification. At the same time malonyl-CoA formation is increased, which inhibits the acylcarnitine transferase system and thus decreases the transport of fatty acids into mitochondria and hence fatty acid oxidation and ketogenesis. Insulin also has a small stimulatory effect on extrahepatic ketone-body utilization. The effects of glucagon depend on whether insulin is present. In normal man glucagon stimulates insulin secretion and the predominant effect is that of insulin, i.e. decreased ketogenesis. In insulin deficiency glucagon has a mild stimulatory effect on lipolysis, increasing fatty acid supply to the liver. The main effects of glucagon are, however, on the liver. It activates the carnitine acyltransferase system through inhibition of malonyl-CoA synthesis. Fatty acid oxidation is increased and ketogenesis enhanced. The overall effect on the liver depends on the relative amounts of insulin and glucagon present. Studies with somatostatin show that glucagon can increase ketogenesis acutely when insulin secretion is inhibited in normal man, but the effects are short-lived. Cortisol has similar effects to glucagon. In the presence of insulin there is a small increase in fatty acid mobilization from adipose tissue, secondary to impaired glucose entry, and perhaps a small effect on lipolysis itself. This fatty acid is, however, directed to triacylglycerol in the liver. In insulin deficiency, again demonstrated by somatostatin infusion, the incoming fatty acidstone-body formation. The mechanism remains obscure. Catecholamines, in contrast, have their most potent effects on adipose tissue, stimulating lipolysis and fatty acid release even in the presence of insulin. They thus act mainly by enhancing precursor supply and have only minor effects on liver and no effect on peripheral utilization. Growth hormone, like glucagon, has little effect in the presence of insulin, but can enhance ketogenesis in insulin deficiency, although again the mechanism is unknown. Thus in normally fed man the effects of insulin will be overriding and little ketogenesis occurs because of limited fatty acid availability in the liver...

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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