Exposure of isolated single-pass-perfused rat liver to hypo-osmotic media resulted in liver cell swelling and an inhibition of release of branched-chain amino acids. Similarly, cell swelling inhibited [3H]leucine release from perfused livers from rats in which liver proteins were prelabelled in vivo by intraperitoneal injection of L-[4,5-3H]leucine 16-20 h before the experiment. The effects of cell swelling on [3H]leucine release were fully reversible. [3H]Leucine release was also inhibited when cell swelling was induced by addition of glutamine (0.5-2 mM). There was a close relationship between the inhibition of [3H]leucine release and the degree of liver cell swelling, regardless of whether cell swelling was induced by hypo-osmotic perfusion or addition of glutamine. The data suggest that the known anti-proteolytic effect of glutamine is in large part due to glutamine-induced hepatocyte swelling.

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