1. The effect of acetate absorbed from the gut on glucose turnover has been determined in four healthy subjects during both fasting and an intravenous glucose infusion by using [U-13C]glucose.
2. In the first part of the study, after an overnight fast, a tracer dose of [U-13C]glucose was infused at a constant rate along with an infusion of saline for 7 h. In the second part the saline infusion was replaced by glucose at 4.25 mg min−1 kg−1. In both studies 15 mmol of sodium acetate was given by mouth at 15 min intervals from the fourth to the sixth hour. Glucose turnover, respiratory quotient, metabolic rate and blood levels of acetate, 3-hydroxybutyrate, lactate, insulin, glucagon and gastric inhibitory polypeptide were measured.
3. Glucose turnover rates (means ±sem) were 1.88 ±0.1 mg min−1 kg−1 during fasting and 4.0 ± 0.08 mg min−1 kg−1 during glucose infusion. Acetate had no effect on glucose turnover, insulin, glucagon and gastric inhibitory polypeptide levels, but temporarily halted the rise in free fatty acids seen during the fasting study. No changes in oxygen consumption or carbon dioxide output occurred, in keeping with previous observations that acetate substitutes for lipid oxidation during metabolism and has no direct effect on glucose turnover.