To examine the mechanism of the arginine-induced rise in blood glucose concentration, splanchnic glucose output (SGO) and precursor uptake were studied during i.v. infusion of arginine (30 g/30 min) with and without somatostatin infusion (500 μg/h, 90 min) in postabsorptive and in 60-h fasted healthy subjects. The hepatic venous catheter technique was employed.

In the postabsorptive state, arginine infusion was accompanied by an eightfold and a fivefold increment, respectively, in the hepatic venous concentration of insulin and glucagon; SGO doubled and blood glucose increased by 30%. After cessation of arginine infusion, SGO and blood glucose returned to basal levels within 30 min.

When both arginine and somatostatin were administered, glucagon rose threefold, whereas the insulin response was abolished. And while the rise in SGO during arginine infusion and its subsequent decline were uninfluenced by the simultaneous infusion of somatostatin, the rise in blood glucose was more pronounced and the glucose concentration remained elevated longer than in control studies without somatostatin. Splanchnic uptake of glucogenic precursors was uninfluenced by arginine infusion, with or without simultaneous somatostatin administration.

In the 60-h fasted group, arginine infusion was accompanied by a minimal increase in insulin but a fivefold elevation of the glucagon level. Combined arginine and somatostatin infusion did not boost insulin significantly but the glucagon level rose threefold above the basal value. Basal SGO was 55% lower than in the postabsorptive state, and it rose in response to arginine administration (+50%) as well as during combined arginine and somatostatin infusion (+80%). No significant change in splanchnic uptake of glucogenic precursors was observed during arginine infusion with or without somatostatin administration.

We conclude that (1) arginine infusion is accompanied by a rise in SGO and blood glucose due to arginine-induced stimulation of glucagon secretion, (2) the rise in SGO is caused primarily by glucagon-stimulated hepatic glycogenolysis, and (3) combined somatostatin and arginine administration is accompanied by a more marked rise in blood glucose due to hypoinsulinemia and reduced peripheral glucose Utilization.

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