Hepatocytes isolated from livers of fed rats were incubated with a mixture of glucose (10 mM), ribose (1.0 mM), acetate (1.25 mM), alanine (3.5 mM), glutamate (2.0 mM), aspartate (2.0 mM), 4-methyl-2-oxovaleric acid (ketoleucine) (3.0 mM), and, in paired flasks, 10 mM-ethanol. One substrate was 14C-radiolabelled in any given incubation. Incorporation of 14C into glucose, glycogen, CO2, lactate, alanine, aspartate, glutamate, acetate, urea, lipid glycerol, fatty acids and the 1- and 2,3,4-positions of ketone bodies was measured after 20 and 40 min of incubation under quasi-steady-state conditions. Data were analysed with the aid of a realistic structural metabolic model. In each of the four conditions examined, there were approx. 77 label incorporation measurements and several measurements of changes in metabolite concentrations. The considerable excess of measurements over the 37 independent flux parameters allowed for a stringent test of the model. A satisfactory fit to these data was obtained for each condition. There were large bidirectional fluxes along the gluconeogenic/glycolytic pathways, with net gluconeogenesis. Rates of ureagenesis, oxygen consumption and ketogenesis were high under all four conditions studied. Oxygen utilization was accurately predicted by three of the four models. There was complete equilibration between mitochondrial and cytosolic pools of acetate and of CO2, but for several of the metabolic conditions, two incompletely equilibrated pools of mitochondrial acetyl-CoA and oxaloacetate were required. Ketoleucine was utilized at a rate comparable to that reported by others in perfused liver and entered the mitochondrial pool of acetyl-CoA directly associated with ketone body formation. Ethanol, which was metabolized at rates comparable to those in vivo, caused relatively few changes in overall flux patterns. Several effects related to the increased NADH/NAD+ ratio were observed. Pyruvate dehydrogenase was completely inhibited and the ratio of acetoacetate to 3-hydroxybutyrate was decreased; flux through glutamate dehydrogenase, the citric acid cycle, and ketoleucine dehydrogenase were, however, only slightly inhibited. Net production of ATP occurred in all conditions studied and was increased by ethanol. Futile cycling was quantified at the glucose/glucose 6-phosphate, glycogen/glucose 6-phosphate, fructose 6-phosphate/fructose 1,6-bis-phosphate, and phosphoenolpyruvate/pyruvate/oxaloacetate substrate cycles. Cycling at these four loci consumed about 22% of cellular ATP production in control hepatocytes and 14% in ethanol-treated cells.

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