A preparation of isolated rat hindleg was perfused with a medium consisting of bicarbonate buffer containing Ficoll and fluorocarbon, containing glucose and/or lactate. The leg was electrically prestimulated to deplete partially muscle glycogen. The glucose was labelled uniformly with 14C and with 3H in positions 2, 5 or 6, and lactate uniformly with 14C and with 3H in positions 2 or 3. Glucose carbon was predominantly recovered in glycogen, and to a lesser extent in lactate. The 3H/14C ration in glycogen from [5-3H,U-14C]- and [6-3H,U-14C]-glucose was the same as in glucose. Nearly all the utilized 3H from [2-3H]glucose was recovered as water. Insulin increased glucose uptake and glycogen synthesis 3-fold. When the muscle was perfused with a medium containing 10 mM-glucose and 2 mM-lactate, there was little change in lactate concentration. 14C from lactate was incorporated into glycogen. There was a marked exponential decrease in lactate specific radioactivity, much greater with [3H]- than with [14C]-lactate. The ‘apparent turnover’ of [U-14C]lactate was 0.28 mumol/min per g of muscle, and those of [2-3H]- and [3-3H]-lactate were both about 0.7 mumol/min per g. With 10 mM-lactate as sole substrate, there was a net uptake of lactate, at a rate of about 0.15 mumol/min per g, and the apparent turnover of [U-14C]lactate was 0.3 mumol/min per g. The apparent turnover of [3H]lactate was 3-5 times greater. When glycogen synthesis was low (no prestimulation, no insulin), the incorporation of lactate carbon into glycogen exceeded that from glucose, but at high rates of glycogen deposition the incorporation of lactate carbon was much less than that of glucose. Lactate incorporation into glycogen was similar in fast-twitch white and fast-twitch red muscle, but was very low in slow-twitch red fibres. We find that (a) pyruvate in muscle is incorporated into glycogen without randomization of carbon, and synthesis is not inhibited by mercaptopicolinate or cycloserine; (b) there is extensive lactate turnover in the absence of net lactate uptake, and there is a large dilution of 14C-labelled lactate from endogenous supply; (c) there is extensive detritiation of [2-3H]- and [3-3H]-lactate in excess of 14C utilization.

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