To investigate the metabolic fates of glutamine in splenocytes from the BB rat with spontaneous immunologically mediated insulin-dependent diabetes, freshly isolated cells were incubated in Krebs-Ringer Hepes buffer with 1.0 mM-[U-14C]glutamine and 0, 4 mM- or 15 mM-glucose. (1) The major products of glutamine metabolism in splenocytes from normal and diabetic rats were ammonia, glutamate, aspartate and CO2. (2) The addition of glucose increased (P less than 0.01) glutamate production, but decreased (P less than 0.01) aspartate and CO2 production from glutamine, as compared with the values obtained in the absence of glucose. However, there were no differences in these metabolites of glutamine at 4 mM- and 15 mM-glucose. (3) At all glucose concentrations used, the productions of ammonia, glutamate, aspartate and CO2 from glutamine were all markedly increased (P less than 0.01) in splenocytes from diabetic rats. (4) Potential ATP production from glutamine in the splenocytes was similar to that from glucose, and was increased in cells from the diabetic rat. (5) ATP concentrations were increased (P less than 0.01) in diabetic-rat splenocytes in the presence of glutamine with or without glucose. (6) Our results demonstrate that glutamine is an important energy substrate for splenocytes and suggest that the increased glutamine metabolism may be associated with the activation of certain subsets of splenocytes in the immunologically mediated diabetic syndrome.

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