High rates of hepatic cellular triacylglycerol synthesis and very-low-density-lipoprotein (VLDL) triacylglycerol output were maintained in vitro for at least 3 days when hepatocytes were cultured in a medium lacking insulin but supplemented with 1 microM-dexamethasone, 10 mM-lactate, 1 mM-pyruvate and 0.75 mM-oleate (supplemented medium). Under these conditions VLDL output remained constant, whereas cell triacyglycerol content increased 10-fold over 3 days, suggesting that the secretory process was saturated. Insulin, present during the first 24 h period, enhanced the storage of cellular triacylglycerol by inhibiting the secretion of VLDL. This stored triacyglycerol was subsequently released into the medium as VLDL if insulin was removed. With the supplemented medium the increased rate of VLDL secretion after insulin removal exceeded that observed under ‘saturating’ conditions, suggesting that pre-treatment with insulin enhanced the capacity for VLDL secretion. In contrast with the short-term (24 h) effects of insulin, longer-term exposure (greater than 48 h) to insulin enhanced the secretion of VLDL compared with insulin-untreated cultures. Under these conditions, insulin increased the net rates of triacylglycerol synthesis. The results suggest that insulin affects the secretion of VLDL triacylglycerol by two distinct and opposing mechanisms: first, by direct inhibition of secretion; second by increasing triacylglycerol synthesis, which stimulates secretion. The net effect at any time depends upon the relative importance of each of these processes.

This content is only available as a PDF.