At concentrations below 50 μM, phenethylbiguanide enhanced the initial rate of enertized Ca2+ uptake into energized guinea pig liver mitochondria by as much as 45 per cent; Ca2+-stimulated O2 uptake increased in parallel. The biguanide concentration that enhanced Ca2+ uptake maximally was at least 15 times lower than that required for 50 per cent inhibition of respiration. Kinetic studies indicated that the enhanced rate of Ca2+ transport resulted from an increase in Vmax, while Km for Ca2+ was unaffected by the biguanide. Several other organic cations known to lower blood sugar in intact animals or to block the hepatic gluconeogenic response to glucagon also enhanced the mitochondrial Ca2+ uptake rate; three of these compounds did not inhibit respiration even at high concentrations. One organic cation, triethyltin, which is a potent respiratory inhibitor that does not affect blood sugar, had no effect on Ca2+ uptake. We concluded that enhancement of the mitochondrial Ca2+ uptake rate is related to the mechanism of therapeutic blood sugar lowering by these drugs, probably by impairing the gluconeogenic response of the liver to glucagon.

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