Although the stimulatory effect of glucagon on gluconeogenesis has been well demonstrated in certain systems in vitro, this effect has never been established in man. The present study was undertaken, therefore, to determine whether glucagon could stimulate gluconeogenesis from alanine in normal fasting man. Glucagon might stimulate this process by increasing the hepatic alanine uptake and/or by shunting the extracted alanine within the liver into the gluconeogenic pathway. In order to be able to examine these two aspects of gluconeogenesis, we combined the hepatic veinbrachial artery catheterization technic with an isotopic infusion of alanine-14C. Alanine-14C specific activity was measured in whole blood and plasma by use of a rapid chromatographic technic. Since plasma contributed 93 per cent of the alanine extracted by the splanchnic bed with a specific activity three times that of the red blood cells, plasma alanine specific activity was used to study the conversion of alanine to glucose. A constant infusion of alanine-14C achieved a relatively stable arterial specific activity by forty minutes. The administration of glucagon by constant infusion (15–50 ng./kg./min.) had no effect on the splanchnic extraction of alanine. Net splanchnic glucose-14C production, however, doubled during the glucagon infusion, and the conversion of alanine to glucose increased from 30 ± 2 to 58 ± 9 μmol/min. These data (1) demonstrate that in normal man fasted twelve to fourteen hours, glucagon at supraphysiblogic levels can double the rate of gluconeogenesis from alanine and (2) indicate that this stimulatory effect of glucagon is exerted within the liver by shunting the extracted alanine toward new glucose formation rather than by increasing the hepatic extraction of alanine.

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