The effects of long-term exposure of cultured rat adipose tissue to glyburide were examined on glycogen synthase activity. Glyburide alone caused an increase in the activity ratio (low glucose-6-P/high glucose-6-P) of glycogen synthase, and enhanced insulin's activation of the enzyme. The glyburide effects were time dependent, requiring fat pieces to be exposed to the drug for at least 10–20 h. The glucose concentration in the culture medium was also important: optimal concentrations of glucose were 10–20 mM. Glyburide acted to shift the insulin dose-response curve to the left by a factor of 2.5, but did not enhance the effects of maximal concentrations of the hormone. The Ka of the glyburide effects was about 2.0 IAM. If glucose was omitted during the 20-min incubation with or without insulin, the increase in the activity ratio of glycogen synthase by glyburide was unaffected, but the enhancement of insulin action was reduced. Because these data indicate that glyburide's actions are glucose dependent, we propose that the sulfonylurea is probably acting to increase glucose transport, thus allosterically increasing the activity of a synthase phosphatase by glucose-6-P. The net result of this would be increased dephosphorylation and activation of glycogen synthase.

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