The effect of ketone bodies on glucose production (Ra) and utilization (Rd) was investigated in the 24-h starved, conscious unrestrained miniature pig. Infusing Na-DL-beta-OH-butyrate (Na-DL-beta-OHB) and thus shifting the blood pH from 7.40 to 7.56 resulted in a decrease of Ra by 52% and of Rd by 45%, as determined by the isotope dilution technique. Simultaneously, the concentrations of arterial insulin and glucagon were slightly enhanced, whereas the plasma levels of glucose, lactate, pyruvate, alanine, alpha-amino-N, and free fatty acids (FFA) were all reduced. Infusion of Na-bicarbonate, which yielded a similar shift in blood pH, did not mimick these effects. Infusion of equimolar amounts of the ketoacid, yielding a blood pH of 7.35, induced similar metabolic alterations with respect to plasma glucose, Ra, Rd, and insulin; however, plasma alanine and alpha-amino-N increased. Infusing different amounts of Na-DL-beta-OHB resulting in plasma steady state levels of ketones from 0.25 to 1.5 mM had similar effects on arterial insulin and glucose kinetics. No dose dependency was observed. Prevention of the Na-DL-beta-OHB-induced hypoalaninemia by simultaneous infusion of alanine (1 mumol/kg X min) did not prevent hypoglycemia. Infusion of Na-DL-beta-OHB plus insulin (0.4 mU/kg X min) showed no additive effect on the inhibition of Ra. Ketones did not inhibit the insulin-stimulated metabolic clearance rate (MCR) for glucose. Infusion of somatostatin (0.2 micrograms/kg X min) initially decreased plasma glucose, Ra, and Rd, which was followed by an increase in plasma glucose and Ra; however, on infusion of somatostatin plus Na-DL-beta-OHB, hypoglycemia and the reduced Ra were maintained. In the anaesthetized 24-h starved miniature pig, Na-DL-beta-OHB infusion decreased the hepatic exchange for glucose, lactate, and FFA, whereas the exchange for glycerol, alanine, and alpha-amino-N as well as liver perfusion rate were unaffected. Simultaneously, portal glucagon and insulin as well as hepatic insulin extraction rate were elevated. Leg exchange for glucose, lactate, glycerol, alanine, alpha-amino-N, and FFA were decreased, while ketone body utilization increased. Repeated infusion of Na-DL-beta-OHB at the fourth, fifth, and sixth day of starvation in the conscious, unrestrained mini-pig resulted in a significant drop in urinary nitrogen (N)-excretion. However, this effect was mimicked by infusing equimolar amounts of Na-bicarbonate. In contrast, when only the ketoacid was given, urinary N-excretion accelerated. To summarize: (a) Ketone bodies decrease endogenous glucose production via an insulin-dependent mechanism; in addition, ketones probably exert a direct inhibitory action on gluconeogenesis. The ketone body-induced hypoalaninemia does not contribute to this effect. (b) The counterregulatory response to hypoglycemia is reduced by ketones. (c) As a consequence of the decrease in R(a), glucose utilization declines during ketone infusion. (d)The insulin-stimulated MCR for glucose is not affected by ketones. (e) Ketones in their physiological moiety do not show a protein-sparing effect.


M J Müller, U Paschen, H J Seitz


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