1. During conversion of [6-3H,U-14C]glucose to glycogen in liver, loss of 6-3H can occur either by cycling via pyruvate (between glycolysis and gluconeogenesis) or by other mechanisms. We used mercaptopicolinate, an inhibitor of phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase, to determine the extent to which pyruvate cycling contributes to loss of 6-3H during glucose conversion to glycogen in hepatocytes. 2. Mercaptopicolinate increased the 3H/14C ratio in glycogen during incubation of rat, guinea pig, pig and human hepatocytes with [6-3H,U-14C]glucose. The increase in the 3H/14C ratio in glycogen caused by mercaptopicolinate was greater in periportal than in perivenous rat hepatocytes, indicating that cycling of glucose via pyruvate is more prominent in cells with a higher gluconeogenic relative to glycolytic capacity. 3. The effect of mercaptopicolinate on the 3H/14C ratio in glycogen was observed both in the absence and in the presence of insulin, indicating that stimulation of glycogen synthesis by insulin is not associated with inhibition of pyruvate cycling. In rat and guinea pig but not in pig hepatocytes, the effects of mercaptopicolinate on the 3H/14C ratio in glycogen were greater at 10-15 mM glucose than at 30 mM glucose, suggesting diminished cycling via pyruvate at high glucose concentrations. 4. Insulin increased the loss of 6-3H during stimulation of conversion of glucose to glycogen in hepatocytes from all species. This was due in part to an increase in pyruvate cycling and in part to other mechanisms that are not inhibited by mercaptopicolinate. 5. These results suggest that pyruvate cycling is a significant, but not exclusive, component of the loss of 6-3H in the hepatocyte during glucose conversion to glycogen. The extent of pyruvate cycling is dependent on the acinar origin of the hepatocytes and on the glucose concentration and presence of insulin.

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