We examined splanchnic metabolism of alanine in 15 normal males under three sets of conditions: infusion of saline (control studies); infusion of somatostatin (SRIF) (bihormonal deficiency of insulin and glucagon); and infusion of somatostatin plus insulin (selective glucagon deficiency). Net splanchnic alanine uptake (NSAU) remained stable over 2 h during infusion of saline. Infusion of SRIF was associated with a fall in estimated hepatic plasma flow (EHPF) whether or not insulin was infused concomitantly. With SRIF only, arterio-hepatic venous alanine differences increased such that NSAU remained stable over 2 h, despite the fall in EHPF. In contrast, with selective glucagon deficiency, NSAU fell significantly after 2 h, an effect consequent on a fall in EHPF and a delayed fall in arterio-hepatic venous (A-HV) alanine differences. Our studies are compatible with a role for basal glucagon in maintenance of splanchnic extraction of alanine in normal man. However, the SRIF-initiated fall in EHPF may exert an infjuence on A-HV alanine differences independent of changes in pancreatic hormone secretion.

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