Gluconeogenesis in very low birth weight infants receiving total parenteral nutrition

Diabetes. 1999 Apr;48(4):791-800. doi: 10.2337/diabetes.48.4.791.


Very low birth weight (VLBW) infants are dependent on total parenteral nutrition (TPN) to prevent hypoglycemia and provide a sufficient energy intake. However, diminished tolerance for parenteral glucose delivered at high rates frequently provokes hyperglycemia. We hypothesized that when their glucose supply is reduced to prevent hyperglycemia, VLBW infants can maintain normoglycemia via gluconeogenesis from glycerol and amino acids. Twenty infants born at 27 +/- 0.2 (mean +/- SE) gestational weeks and having a birth weight of 996 +/- 28 g, received lipids (1.6 +/- 0.1 mg x kg(-1) x min(-1)), protein (2.2 +/- 0.1 mg x kg(-1) x min(-1)), and glucose (3.1 +/- 0.1 mg x kg(-1) x min(-1) [17.1 +/- 0.2 micromol x kg(-1) x min(-1)]) parenterally over a period of 8-12 h on day 5.0 +/- 0.2 of life. Gluconeogenesis was estimated using [U-13C]glucose (n = 8) or [2-(13)C] glycerol (n = 6) and mass isotopomer distribution analysis (MIDA), or 2H2O (n = 6) and the rate of deuterium incorporation in carbon 6 of glucose. Blood glucose averaged 3.0 +/- 0.1 mmol/l; plasma glucose appearance rate (glucose Ra), 28.8 +/- 1.1 micromol x kg(-1) x min(-1); and glucose production rate (GPR), 10.7 +/- 1.0 micromol x kg(-1) x min(-1). The [U-13C]glucose and [2-(13)C]glycerol tracers provided similar estimates of gluconeogenesis, averaging 28 +/- 2 and 26 +/- 2% of glucose Ra and 72 +/- 5 and 73 +/- 9% of GPR, respectively. Glycerol contributed 64 +/- 5% of total gluconeogenesis. Gluconeogenesis measured by 2H2O, which does not include the contribution from glycerol, was comparable to the nonglycerol fraction of gluconeogenesis derived by the [2-(13)C]glycerol MIDA. We conclude that in VLBW infants receiving TPN, normoglycemia was maintained during reduced glucose infusion by glucose production primarily derived from gluconeogenesis, and that glycerol was the principal gluconeogenic substrate.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Female
  • Gluconeogenesis / physiology*
  • Glycerol / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Infant, Low Birth Weight / metabolism*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Parenteral Nutrition, Total*


  • Blood Glucose
  • Glycerol