To detect potential direct effects of the sulfonylurea glyburide on hepatic carbohydrate metabolism, we tested whether the drug was capable of modulating insulin binding and glycogenesis in primary cultured hepatocytes. After 24-h culture under serum- and hormone-free conditions, cells were incubated with or without 10−8 M insulin and/or glyburide (0.1–5.0 μg/ ml) for another 24 h. Then, specific 125I-insulin binding and basal and insulin-stimulated glycogen synthesis were determined. Acute addition of glyburide to previously untreated cells did not modulate any of these parameters. Incubation for 24 h with 2 μg/ml of glyburide did not affect the DNA and protein content of the dishes. Cellular glycogen content and basal glycogenesis also remained unchanged by glyburide in hepatocytes incubated in the absence of insulin, but glycogen content was increased and basal glycogen synthesis decreased in insulin-pretreated cells. In contrast, glyburide increased insulin-stimulated glycogenesis in a dose-dependent fashion in both insulin-pretreated and control cells by enhancing responsiveness, but not sensitivity, toward insulin. Pretreating hepatocytes with 10−8 M insulin caused a 40% reduction in specific insulin binding. Glyburide did not modulate insulin binding or degradation in control cells nor was insulin-induced regulation of insulin receptors affected. These results demonstrate a direct dose-dependent effect of a sulfonylurea on an insulin action toward hepatic carbohydrate metabolism, and suggest that this effect is mediated by a postreceptor mechanism.

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