The suppressive effect of insulin on hepatic glucose production is generally recognized. Though it is well established that this effect is at least partially due to inhibition of glycogenolysis, controversy still exists about insulin's effect on gluconeogenesis. The present study was undertaken to determine whether insulin could affect gluconeogenesis from alanine in the intact dog and to compare the effect of insulin on glycogenolysis and gluconeogenesis.
In anesthetized dogs fasted overnight, blood samples were drawn simultaneously from a femoral artery and hepatic vein. Alanine-U-14C, 10 μCi./kg., was infused over 110 minutes. A constant insulin infusion at either 1 or 5 mU./kg./min. was begun at 50 minutes, and blood glucose concentration was maintained by a variable glucose infusion. When insulin was infused at 1 mU./kg./min., resulting in plasma immunoreactive insulin (IRI) levels of 73 ± 10 μU./ml., the net splanchnic glucose production (NSGP) was suppressed from 2.7 ± 2 mg./kg./min. to virtually zero. In constrast, this small increment in insulin concentration had no demonstrable effect on the net splanchnic uptake of alanine or on the conversion of plasma alanine to glucose (7.9 ± 0.3 μmol/min.). Insulin infused at 5 mU./kg./min. resulted in IRI levels of 240 ± 25 muU./ml. This higher insulin concentration was associated with a marked suppression of both the NSGP (100 per cent) and the conversion of plasma alanine to glucose (90 per cent) but did not affect the extraction of alanine by the splanchnic bed. Doses of both 1 and 5 mU./kg./min. were associated with a 35 per cent fall in immunoreactive glucagon levels.
These data demonstrate that (1) glycogenolysis is more sensitive than gluconeogenesis to the inhibitory effect of small increments in insulin concentrations, (2) gluconeogenesis could be suppressed by insulin but only at higher insulin concentrations, (3) this suppression of gluconeogenesis from alanine by insulin was due to an intrahepatic effect rather than an effect on the splanchnic extraction of alanine, and finally, (4) that insulin can suppress glucagon in the absence of hyperglycemia.