The metabolism of L-tryptophan by isolated liver cells prepared from control, adrenalectomized, glucocorticoid-treated, acute-diabetic, chronic-diabetic and insulin-treated chronic-diabetic rats was studied. Liver cells from adrenalectomized rats metabolized tryptophan at rates comparable with the minimum diurnal rates of controls, but different from rates determined for cells from control rats 4h later. Administration of dexamethasone phosphate increased the activity of tryptophan 2,3-dioxygenase (EC 7-8-fold, and the flux through the kynurenine pathway 3-4-fold, in cells from both control and adrenalectomized rats. Increases in flux through kynureninase (EC and to acetyl-CoA can be explained in terms of increased substrate supply from tryptophan 2,3-dioxygenase. The metabolism of tryptophan was increased 3-fold in liver cells isolated from acutely (3 days) diabetic rats, with a 7-8-fold increase in the maximal activity of tryptophan 2,3-dioxygenase. The oxidation of tryptophan to CO2 and metabolites of the glutarate pathway increased 4-5-fold, consistent with an increase in picolinate carboxylase (EC activity. Liver cells isolated from chronic (10 days) diabetic rats metabolized tryptophan at rates comparable with those of cells from acutely diabetic rats, but with a 50% decrease in the activity of tryptophan 2,3-dioxygenase. The proportion of flux from tryptophan 2,3-dioxygenase to acetyl-CoA, however, was increased by 50%; this was indicative of further increases in the activity of picolinate carboxylase. Administration of insulin partially reversed the effects of chronic diabetes on the activity of tryptophan 2,3-dioxygenase and flux through the kynurenine pathway, but had no effect on the increased activity of picolinate carboxylase. The role of tryptophan 2,3-dioxygenase in regulating the blood tryptophan concentration is discussed with reference to its sensitivity to the above conditions.

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