Nutritional regulation of hepatic glucose metabolism in fish

Fish Physiol Biochem. 2009 Aug;35(3):519-39. doi: 10.1007/s10695-008-9259-5. Epub 2008 Sep 14.


Glucose plays a key role as energy source in the majority of mammals, but its importance in fish appears limited. Until now, the physiological basis for such apparent glucose intolerance in fish has not been fully understood. A distinct regulation of hepatic glucose utilization (glycolysis) and production (gluconeogenesis) may be advanced to explain the relative inability of fish to efficiently utilize dietary glucose. We summarize here information regarding the nutritional regulation of key enzymes involved in glycolysis (hexokinases, 6-phosphofructo-1-kinase and pyruvate kinase) and gluconeogenesis (phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase, fructose-1,6-bisphosphatase and glucose-6-phosphatase) pathways as well as that of the bifunctional enzyme 6-phosphofructo-2-kinase/fructose-2,6-bisphosphatase. The effect of dietary carbohydrate level and source on the activities and gene expression of the mentioned key enzymes is also discussed. Overall, data strongly suggest that the liver of most fish species is apparently capable of regulating glucose storage. The persistent high level of endogenous glucose production independent of carbohydrate intake level may lead to a putative competition between exogenous (dietary) glucose and endogenous glucose as the source of energy, which may explain the poor dietary carbohydrate utilization in fish.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / metabolism*
  • Enzymes / metabolism*
  • Fishes / metabolism*
  • Fishes / physiology
  • Gluconeogenesis / physiology*
  • Glucose / metabolism*
  • Glycolysis / physiology*
  • Liver / metabolism*
  • Phosphofructokinase-2 / metabolism
  • Species Specificity


  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Enzymes
  • Phosphofructokinase-2
  • Glucose