Infusion of adenine nucleotides and adenosine into perfused rat livers resulted in stimulation of hepatic glycogenolysis, transient increases in the effluent perfusate [3-hydroxybutyrate]/[acetoacetate] ratio, and increased portal vein pressure. In livers perfused with buffer containing 50 microM-Ca2+, transient efflux of Ca2+ was seen on stimulation of the liver with adenine nucleotides or adenosine. ADP was the most potent of the nucleotides, stimulating glucose output at concentrations as low as 0.15 microM, with half-maximal stimulation at approx. 1 microM, and ATP was slightly less potent, half-maximal stimulation requiring 4 microM-ATP. AMP and adenosine were much less effective, doses giving half-maximal stimulation being 40 and 20 microM respectively. Non-hydrolysed ATP analogues were much less effective than ATP in promoting changes in hepatic metabolism. ITP, GTP and GDP caused similar changes in hepatic metabolism to ATP, but were 10-20 times less potent than ATP. In livers perfused at low (7 microM) Ca2+, infusion of phenylephrine before ATP desensitized hepatic responses to ATP. Repeated infusions of ATP in such low-Ca2+-perfused livers caused homologous desensitization of ATP responses, and also desensitized subsequent Ca2+-dependent responses to phenylephrine. A short infusion of Ca2+ (1.25 mM) after phenylephrine infusion restored subsequent responses to ATP, indicating that, during perfusion with buffer containing 7 microM-Ca2+, ATP and phenylephrine deplete the same pool of intracellular Ca2+, which can be rapidly replenished in the presence of extracellular Ca2+. Measurement of cyclic AMP in freeze-clamped liver tissue demonstrated that adenosine (150 microM) significantly increased hepatic cyclic AMP, whereas ATP (15 microM) was without effect. It is concluded that ATP and ADP stimulate hepatic glycogenolysis via P2-purinergic receptors, through a Ca2+-dependent mechanism similar to that in alpha-adrenergic stimulation of hepatic tissue. However, adenosine stimulates glycogenolysis via P1-purinoreceptors and/or uptake into the cell, at least partially through a mechanism involving increase in cyclic AMP. Further, the hepatic response to adenine nucleotides may be significant in regulating hepatic glucose output in physiological and pathophysiological states.

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