Protein feeding promotes redistribution of endogenous glucose production to the kidney and potentiates its suppression by insulin

Endocrinology. 2009 Feb;150(2):616-24. doi: 10.1210/en.2008-0601. Epub 2008 Oct 9.


The aim of this study was to assess in rats the effect of protein feeding on the: 1) distribution of endogenous glucose production (EGP) among gluconeogenic organs, and 2) repercussion on the insulin sensitivity of glucose metabolism. We used gene expression analyses, a combination of glucose tracer dilution and arteriovenous balance to quantify specific organ release, and hyperinsulinemic euglycemic clamps to assess EGP and glucose uptake. Protein feeding promoted a dramatic induction of the main regulatory gluconeogenic genes (glucose-6 phosphatase and phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase) in the kidney, but not in the liver. As a consequence, the kidney glucose release was markedly increased, compared with rats fed a normal starch diet. Protein feeding ameliorated the suppression of EGP by insulin and the sparing of glycogen storage in the liver but had no effect on glucose uptake. Combined with the previously reported induction of gluconeogenesis in the small intestine, the present work strongly suggests that a redistribution of glucose production among gluconeogenic organs might occur upon protein feeding. This phenomenon is in keeping with the improvement of insulin sensitivity of EGP, most likely involving the hepatic site. These data shed a new light on the improvement of glucose tolerance, previously observed upon increasing the amount of protein in the diet, in type 2 diabetic patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diet*
  • Drug Synergism
  • Eating / physiology
  • Fasting / metabolism
  • Fasting / physiology
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects
  • Gluconeogenesis / drug effects
  • Gluconeogenesis / genetics
  • Glucose / metabolism*
  • Glucose-6-Phosphatase / genetics
  • Glucose-6-Phosphatase / metabolism
  • Insulin / pharmacology*
  • Kidney / drug effects*
  • Kidney / metabolism
  • Liver / drug effects
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Male
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / genetics
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism
  • Proteins / pharmacology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Tissue Distribution / drug effects


  • Insulin
  • Proteins
  • phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase kinase
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Glucose-6-Phosphatase
  • Glucose