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Am J Physiol. 1997 Mar;272(3 Pt 1):E437-45.

Regulation of gluconeogenesis by glutamine in normal postabsorptive humans.

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The University of Rochester School of Medicine, New York 14642, USA.


There is evidence that glutamine may act as a regulator of protein, free fatty acid, and glycogen metabolism. To test the hypothesis that glutamine may act as a physiological regulator of gluconeogenesis, we infused 16 normal postabsorptive volunteers with glutamine at a rate (11.4 micromol kg(-1) x min(-1)) estimated to approximate its appearance in plasma after a protein meal and assessed changes in production of glucose from glutamine, systemic glucose appearance and disposal, and uptake and release of glucose, glutamine, and alanine by forearm skeletal muscle. Although infusion of glutamine increased plasma glutamine concentration and turnover only threefold (from 0.63 +/- 0.03 to 1.95 +/- 0.10 mmol/l and from 5.43 +/- 0.24 to 14.85 +/- 0.66 micromol x kg(-1) x min(-1), respectively; P < 0.001), formation of glucose from glutamine increased sevenfold from 0.55 +/- 0.03 to 3.74 +/- 0.28 micromol x kg(-1) x min(-1) (P < 0.001). Formation of glucose from alanine was also stimulated (0.52 +/- 0.05 vs. 0.75 +/- 0.04 micromol x kg(-1) x min(-1); P < 0.001) in the absence of a change in plasma alanine concentration. Furthermore, glutamine infusion decreased its own de novo synthesis (4.55 +/- 0.22 vs. 2.81 +/- 0.62 micromol x kg(-1) x min(-1);P < 0.02) while increasing that of alanine (2.82 +/- 0.32 vs. 3.56 +/- 0.32 micromol x kg(-1) x min(-1); P < 0.002). Systemic glucose appearance, systemic glucose disposal, and forearm balance of glucose and alanine were not altered. Because the stimulatory effects of glutamine on gluconeogenesis occurred in the absence of changes in plasma insulin and glucagon levels, these results provide evidence that, in humans, glutamine may act both as a substrate and as a regulator of gluconeogenesis as well as a modulator of its own metabolism.

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