Glycogen synthesis in isolated hepatocytes can occur from glucose both by a direct mechanism and by an indirect process in which glucose is first metabolized to C3 intermediates before use for glycogenesis via gluconeogenesis. We studied the incorporation into glycogen of glucose and the gluconeogenic substrate, fructose, in primary cultures of hepatocytes from fasted rats. In the presence of insulin, both glucose and fructose promoted net deposition of glycogen; however, fructose carbon was incorporated into glycogen to a greater extent than that from glucose. When glucose and fructose were administered simultaneously, the glycogenic utilization of glucose was stimulated 2-3-fold, and that of fructose was increased by about 50%. At constant hexose concentrations, the total incorporation of carbon, and the total accumulation of glycogen mass, from glucose and fructose when present together exceeded that from either substrate alone. Fructose did not change the relative proportion of glucose carbon incorporated into glycogen via the indirect (gluconeogenic) mechanism. The synergism of glucose and fructose in glycogen synthesis in isolated rat hepatocytes in primary culture appears to result from a decrease in the rate of degradation of newly deposited glycogen, owing to (i) decreased amount of phosphorylase a mediated by glucose and (ii) noncovalent inhibition of residual phosphorylase activity by some intermediate arising from the metabolism of fructose, presumably fructose 1-phosphate.

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