In hepatocytes isolated from fed rats, acute ethanol pretreatment (at a dose of 5.0 g/kg body wt.) did not change rates of O2 uptake. In cells from starved animals, acute ethanol pretreatment increased O2 uptake by 17-29%. The increased O2 uptake in hepatocytes from starved rats was not accompanied by increased rates of ethanol oxidation, but was accompanied by increased rates of gluconeogenesis under some conditions. The provision of ethanol (10 mM) as a substrate to cells from fed or starved rats decreased O2 uptake in the absence of other substrates or in the presence of lactate, and increased it in the presence of pyruvate or lactate and pyruvate. The results of this study show that the acute effects of ethanol on liver O2 uptake are dependent on the physiological state of the liver. Previously reported large (2-fold) increases in O2 uptake after acute ethanol pretreatment may have been an artefact owing to low control uptake rates (approximately 1.8 micromol/min per g wet wt. of cells) in the liver preparation used. The ATP contents (2.4-2.6 micromol/g wet wt. of cells) and rates of O2 uptake (2.5-5.0 micromol/min per g wet wt. of cells) of cells used in the present study were the same as values reported under conditions close to those in vivo. Therefore the increase in O2 uptake in cells from starved rats after acute ethanol pretreatment is likely to be of physiological significance.

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