The present study investigated the effects of chronic food restriction (achieved by limiting access to food to 2 h daily for up to 8 weeks) on the activity of the active form of pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDHa) in liver. Accelerated and exaggerated activation of hepatic PDH in response to a meal, previously demonstrated to occur within 10 days of food restriction, was demonstrated to persist for 4 and 8 weeks of food restriction, despite a food intake of only 50-60% of controls. Activation of hepatic PDH during feeding in rats subjected to food restriction for 4 weeks was dependent on continued food intake. As a consequence, hepatic PDHa activities in food-restricted rats were suppressed relative to controls for 19 h of the 24 h daily cycle. Curve-fitting by second-order polynomial regression analysis demonstrated a significant positive correlation between hepatic PDHa activity and lipogenic rate over the range of PDHa activities observed during the 2 h feeding period. Increased lipogenesis during feeding in food-restricted rats was not at the expense of hepatic glycogen synthesis or deposition; measurement of concurrent rates of glycogenesis and lipogenesis revealed simultaneous flux through both pathways, but specific activation of lipogenesis. The accelerated re-activation of hepatic PDH observed within 1 h of feeding in rats subjected to 4 weeks of food restriction was facilitated by a failure of the 22 h interprandial fasting period to induce a stable increase in hepatic PDH kinase activity. The present study indicates differential regulation of hepatic PDH kinase activity during periods of food withdrawal between food-restricted rats and starved/re-fed control rats. Such regulation occupies a critical role in determining the rate of activation of hepatic PDH during feeding. In turn, increased activity of hepatic PDHa during feeding in food-restricted rats bears a close positive relationship with hepatic lipogenic rate.

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