Regulation of glycogen metabolism in primary cultures of rat hepatocytes. Restoration of acute effects of insulin and glucose in cells from diabetic rats

UMMS Affiliation

Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences; Department of Biochemistry

Publication Date


Document Type



Life Sciences | Medicine and Health Sciences


Defects in the deposition of glycogen and the regulation of glycogen synthesis in the livers of severely insulin-deficient rats can be reversed, in vivo, within hours of insulin administration. Using primary cultures of hepatocytes isolated from normal and diabetic rats in a serum-free chemically defined medium, the present study addresses the chronic action of insulin to facilitate the direct effects of insulin and glucose on the short term regulation of the enzymes controlling glycogen metabolism. Primary cultures were maintained in the presence of insulin, triiodothyronine, and cortisol for 1-3 days. On day 1 in alloxan diabetic cultures, 10(-7) M insulin did not acutely activate glycogen synthase over a period of 15 min or 1 h, whereas insulin acutely activated synthase in cultures of normal hepatocytes. By day 3 in hepatocytes isolated from alloxan diabetic rats, insulin effected an approximate 30% increase in per cent synthase I within 15 min as was also the case for normal cells. The acute effect of insulin on synthase activation was independent of changes in phosphorylase alpha. Whereas glycogen synthase phosphatase activity could not be shown to be acutely affected by insulin, the total activity in diabetic cells was restored to normal control values over the 3-day culture period. The acute effect of 30 mM glucose to activate glycogen synthase in cultured hepatocytes from normal rats after 1 day of culture was missing in hepatocytes isolated from either alloxan or spontaneously diabetic (BB/W) rats. After 3 days in culture, glucose produced a 50% increase in glycogen synthase activity during a 10-min period under the same conditions. These studies clearly demonstrate that insulin acts in a chronic manner in concert with thyroid hormones and steroids to facilitate acute regulation of hepatic glycogen synthesis by both insulin and glucose.


J Biol Chem. 1986 Jan 15;261(2):785-90.

Journal/Book/Conference Title

The Journal of biological chemistry

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Link to article in PubMed

PubMed ID