First published February 1, 1976 - More info
A reduction in the release of substrate amino acids from skeletal muscle largely explains the decrease in gluconeogenesis characterizing prolonged starvation. Brief starvation is associated with an increase in gluconeogenesis, suggesting increased release of amino acids from muscle. In the present studies, accelerated amino acid release from skeletal muscle induced by brief starvation was sought to account for the accompanying augmentation of gluconeogenesis. To do this amino acid balance across forearm muscles was quantified in 15 postabsorptive (overnight fasted) subjects and in 7 subjects fasted for 60 h. Fasting significantly reduced basal insulin (11.3-7.5 muU/ml) and increased glucagon (116-134 pg/ml). Muscle release of the principal glycogenic amino acids increased. Alanine release increased 59.4%. The increase in release for all amino acids averaged 69.4% and was statistically significant for threonine, serine, glycine, alanine, alpha-aminobutyrate, methionine, tyrosine, and lysine. Thus, with brief starvation, muscle release of glycogenic amino acids increases strikingly. This contrasts with the reduction of amino acid release characterizing prolonged starvation. The adaptation of peripheral tissue metabolism to brief starvation is best explained by the decrease in insulin.