The effects of acetylcholine on glucose and lactate balance and on perfusion flow were studied in isolated rat livers perfused simultaneously via the hepatic artery (100 mmHg, 25-35% of flow) and the portal vein (10 mmHg, 75-65% of flow) with a Krebs-Henseleit bicarbonate buffer containing 5 mM-glucose, 2 mM-lactate and 0.2 mM-pyruvate. Arterial acetylcholine (10 microM sinusoidal concentration) caused an increase in glucose and lactate output and a slight decrease in arterial and portal flow. These effects were accompanied by an output of noradrenaline and adrenaline into the hepatic vein. Portal acetylcholine elicited only minor increases in glucose and lactate output, a slight decrease in portal flow and a small increase in arterial flow, and no noradrenaline and adrenaline release. The metabolic and haemodynamic effects of arterial acetylcholine and the output of noradrenaline and adrenaline were strongly inhibited by the muscarinic antagonist atropine (10 microM). The acetylcholine-dependent alterations of metabolism and the output of noradrenaline were not influenced by the alpha 1-blocker prazosin (5 microM), whereas the output of adrenaline was increased. The acetylcholine-dependent metabolic alterations were not inhibited by the beta 2-antagonist butoxamine (10 microM), although the overflow of noradrenaline was nearly completely blocked and the output of adrenaline was slightly decreased. These results allow the conclusion that arterial, but not portal, acetylcholine caused sympathomimetic metabolic effects, without noradrenaline or adrenaline being involved in signal transduction.

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