To evaluate the effect of insulin-saline-bicarbonate therapy on amino acid metabolism in diabetic ketoacidosis, arterial and venous blood samples as well as cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) were obtained from six patients before and after initiation of corrective therapy. Levels of CSF glutamine were decreased while alanine, α-amino-n-butyrate, valine, isoleucine and leucine were increased significantly compared to a control group composed of six normal, postabsorptive adults free of any neurologic disease. Following therapy, CSF levels of alanine, α-amino-n-butyrate, valine, isoleucine, and leucine declined while glutamine levels did not change.
Admission arterial plasma levels of the glycogenic amino acids were lower than normal while the branched-chain amino acids were elevated. Plasma alanine and glutamine arterio-venous (A-V) differences across forearm tissue were larger. After four hours of corrective therapy, arterial plasma levels of most of the amino acids had declined sharply and A-V differences for glutamine and alanine were markedly reduced (p <.O25 and p <.O1, paired t, respectively). Coincident with the decrease in A-V amino acid differences, plasma glucagon and free fatty acid levels declined significantly. These data suggest that the effect exerted by insulinsaline-bicarbonate therapy on amino acid metabolism is manifested by diminished A-V plasma alanine and glutamine differences across forearm tissue. Thus, the role played by the splanchnic bed both before and following corrective measures may be secondary to substrate availability.