Previous studies have demonstrated that reflexes originating from the oral cavity at the start of food intake are necessary to ensure a normal glucose tolerance. In our experiment, the underlying mechanisms of these reflexes were studied in conscious, freely moving rats bearing chronic catheters. A double-isotope technique was used to measure, under non-steady-state conditions, rates of total glucose appearance (total Ra), total glucose disappearance (Rd), gut glucose absorption (gut Ra), hepatic glucose production (HGP), and the metabolic clearance rate of glucose (MCRg). In random order, 1 wk apart, rats either spontaneously drank 1 ml of a 60% glucose solution or were given the same dose into the stomach via a chronic gastric catheter. Glycemia and insulinemia were lower when glucose was taken orally than when the same amount of the substrate was administered intragastrically. Total Ra after glucose administration was the same in both groups throughout the experiment. Despite lower insulin and glucose values, the increase in Rd was initially higher in the oral group than in the intragastric group. This was accompanied by initial higher MCRg values in the oral group than in animals that received the glucose load directly into their stomachs. We conclude that a series of reflexes elicited by oral glucose ingestion improve glucose tolerance by increasing the efficiency of glucose disposal in the early stages after a glucose load, with a smaller amount of insulin released.

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