1. Previous studies have shown that an arterial-to-portal glucose concentration gradient may be an important signal for insulin-dependent net hepatic glucose uptake. It is not known whether intestinal factors also contribute to the regulation of hepatic glucose utilization. This problem was studied in a newly developed model which allows luminal perfusion of the small intestine via the pyloric sphincter and a combined vascular perfusion of the small intestine via the gastroduodenal artery and superior mesenteric artery, and of the liver via the hepatic artery and portal vein. 2. In both the presence and the absence of 1 mM-glutamine in the vascular perfusate, only about 7% of a luminal bolus of 5500 mumol (1 g) of glucose was absorbed by the small intestine, and nothing was taken up by the liver. 3. With small doses of 75-380 mumol (11-55 mg) of luminal glutamine, but not with 300 mumol of alanine, the intestinal absorption of the luminal glucose bolus was increased almost linearly from 7% to a maximum of 40% and the hepatic uptake from 0% to a maximum of 22%. 4. The increase of hepatic glucose uptake caused by luminal glutamine was only observed when the glucose load was applied into the intestinal lumen, rather than into the superior mesenteric artery. 5. The relative hepatic glucose uptake (uptake/portal supply) was enhanced from 0% to 55% with an increase in portal supply by luminal glutamine, whereas with a similar range of portal glucose supply the relative hepatic uptake by the isolated liver, perfused simultaneously via the hepatic artery and portal vein, was slightly decreased, from 20% to 15%. 6. Addition of various amounts of portal glutamine and/or alterations in the Na+ content of the portal perfusate failed to mimic the luminal glutamine-dependent activation of hepatic glucose uptake. Therefore the luminal-glutamine-elicited activation of hepatic glucose uptake was apparently not caused by a simple increase in the portal-arterial glucose gradient, by glutamine itself or by Na(+)-dependent alterations in hepatic cell volume. The results suggest that luminal glutamine caused not only an increase in intestinal glucose absorption by unknown mechanisms but also the generation of one or more humoral or nervous ‘hepatotropic’ signals in the small intestine which enhanced the hepatic uptake of absorbed glucose.

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