Arteriovenous differences of amino acids across the mammary glands of lactating rats are diminished when the rats are starved for 24 h. When 24 h-starved rats were refed for 2 1/2 h, the arteriovenous differences of amino acids returned to values similar to those found in well-fed rats. In order to find a possible explanation for these rapid changes, we tested the effect of ketone bodies on amino acid uptake by the gland. At 5 min after injection of acetoacetate to fed rats, when the total concentration of ketone bodies in blood was similar to that found in starvation, the uptake of amino acids by the mammary gland was similar to that found after starvation, i.e. lower than in fed rats. However, 30 min after administration of acetoacetate, when the arterial concentration of ketone bodies had returned to values similar to those in fed rats, the arteriovenous differences of amino acids were similar to those found in fed rats. We conclude that the changes in blood ketone bodies may be responsible, at least in part, for the changes in amino acid uptake that occur in starvation and in the starvation—refeeding transition.

This content is only available as a PDF.