Gluconeogenesis was studied in hepatocytes isolated from phenobarbital-pretreated rats fasted for 24 h. In closed vial incubations, glucose production from lactate (20 mmol/l) and pyruvate (2 mmol/l), alanine (20 mmol/l) or glutamine (20 mmol/l) was suppressed by about 30-45%, although glycerol metabolism was not affected. In hepatocytes perifused with lactate and pyruvate (ratio 10:1), glucose production was inhibited by 50%, even at low gluconeogenic flux. From the determination of gluconeogenic intermediates at several steady states of gluconeogenic flux, we have found a single relationship between phosphoenolpyruvate and the rate of glucose production (Jglucose), and two different curves between cytosolic oxaloacetate and Jglucose in controls and in phenobarbital-pretreated hepatocytes. By using 3-mercaptopicolinate to determine the flux control coefficient of phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase we found that phenobarbital pretreatment led to an increase in this coefficient from 0.3 (controls) to 0.8 (phenobarbital group). These observations were confirmed by the finding that the activity of phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase was decreased by 50% after phenobarbital treatment. Hence we conclude that the inhibitory effect of phenobarbital on gluconeogenesis is due, at least partly, to a decrease in the flux through phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase.

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