In vivo amino acid metabolism of gut and liver during short and prolonged starvation

I. de Blaauw, N. E. Deutz, M. F. Von Meyenfeldt

Abstract

During starvation, splanchnic organs are proportionally more affected by protein loss than other organs. Amino acid membrane transport is one of the regulating mechanisms of protein turnover, but until now in vivo data were lacking. To study in vivo phenylalanine and tyrosine membrane transport and protein turnover in splanchnic organs, a primed continuous infusion of L-[2,6-3H]phenylalanine was given to control rats (postabsorptive) and after short (40 h) and prolonged (112 h) starvation. Data were analyzed using a three-compartment model previously used in muscle membrane transport studies. Inward and outward amino acid plasma-tissue membrane transport rates in both the liver and gut were upregulated after prolonged starvation. Metabolic shunting of phenylalanine and tyrosine increased in the gut but decreased to zero in the liver after prolonged starvation. In conjunction with this, gut and liver protein turnover increased after prolonged starvation. In the liver the net uptake of gluconeogenic precursors also increased, indicative for increased gluconeogenesis. The observed changes in amino acid metabolism in both splanchnic organs after prolonged starvation may reflect an adaptation of the gut and liver to nutritional deprivation and could be of benefit during refeeding.