Dietary whey protein modulates liver glycogen level and glycoregulatory enzyme activities in exercise-trained rats

Exp Biol Med (Maywood). 2005 Jan;230(1):23-30. doi: 10.1177/153537020523000103.


This study compared the effects of dietary whey protein with dietary casein or soy protein on glycogen storage and glycoregulatory enzyme activities in the liver of sedentary and exercise-trained rats. Male Sprague-Dawley rats (ca. 130 g) were divided into one sedentary and three exercise-trained groups, with eight animals in each group. Casein was provided as the source of dietary protein in the sedentary group while the exercise-trained groups were fed casein, whey, or soy protein. Rats in the exercise-trained groups ran for 30 mins/day, 4 days/week on a motor-driven treadmill. In the exercise-trained rats, animals fed whey protein had higher liver glycogen content than animals in the other two diet groups. Glucokinase activity was significantly higher in rats fed whey protein compared to that in rats fed soy protein, while glucose 6-phosphatase activity was significantly decreased in animals on the whey protein diet compared with those the other two diets. Although 6-phospho-fructokinase activity was significantly lower in the whey protein group than in the soy protein group, we found that fructose 1,6-bisphosphatase activity was significantly higher in the whey group compared with either the casein or soy groups. Pyruvate kinase activity in rats fed the casein diet was significantly higher than in rats fed either the whey or soy protein diets. In addition, hepatic alanine aminotransferase activity and serum alanine level were also increased in the whey protein group compared with the casein or soy protein groups. Taken together, these results demonstrate that the whey protein diet in exercise-trained rats results in significantly higher levels of liver glycogen, because of the combined effects of regulation of rate limiting glycolytic and gluconeogenic enzyme activities and activation of glycogenesis from alanine via alanine amino-transferase.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Glucose / analysis
  • Body Weight
  • Insulin / blood
  • Liver Glycogen / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Milk Proteins / administration & dosage*
  • Organ Size
  • Physical Conditioning, Animal*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Whey Proteins


  • Blood Glucose
  • Insulin
  • Liver Glycogen
  • Milk Proteins
  • Whey Proteins