Denervated (1-10 days) rat epitrochlearis muscles were isolated, and basal and insulin-stimulated protein and glucose metabolism were studied. Although basal rates of glycolysis and glucose transport were increased in 1-10-day-denervated muscles, basal glycogen-synthesis rates were unaltered and glycogen concentrations were decreased. Basal rates of protein degradation and synthesis were increased in 1-10-day-denervated muscles. The increase in degradation was greater than that in synthesis, resulting in muscle atrophy. Increased rates of proteolysis and glycolysis were accompanied by elevated release rates of leucine, alanine, glutamate, pyruvate and lactate from 3-10-day-denervated muscles. ATP and phosphocreatine were decreased in 3-10-day-denervated muscles. Insulin resistance of glycogen synthesis occurred in 1-10-day denervated muscles. Insulin-stimulated glycolysis and glucose transport were inhibited by day 3 of denervation, and recovered by day 10. Inhibition of insulin-stimulated protein synthesis was observed only in 3-day-denervated muscles, whereas regulation by insulin of net proteolysis was unaffected in 1-10-day-denervated muscles. Thus the results demonstrate enhanced glycolysis, proteolysis and protein synthesis, and decreased energy stores, in denervated muscle. They further suggest a defect in insulin's action on protein synthesis in denervated muscles as well as on glucose metabolism. However, the lack of concurrent changes in all insulin-sensitive pathways and the absence of insulin-resistance for proteolysis suggest multiple and specific cellular defects in insulin's action in denervated muscle.

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