Glucagon stimulates ketone utilization by rat brain slices

J. R. Kirsch, Louis G. D'Alecy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Glucagon has been shown previously to increase further the enhanced tolerance for hypoxia observed in mice with elevated blood ketones. Glucagon is also known to increase blood glucose and to alter directly the metabolism of some (liver) cells. Both the increase in blood glucose and altered cellular metabolism could contribute to the increase in tolerance for hypoxia observed in mice given glucagon in combination with the ketone, beta-hydroxybutyrate. To evaluate the systemic component of this hypothesis, blood glucose, beta-hydroxybutyrate, and glucagon were elevated alone or simultaneously and hypoxic tolerance of mice was measured. To identify possible cellular effects of glucagon on glucose or ketone metabolism, we measured the incorporation of radiolabled glucose or beta-hydroxybutyrate into CO2 or total lipid in isolated rat brain slices. Both glucagon and glucose increased hypoxic tolerance of ketotic mice but our data do not support the hypothesis that glucagon's action was only through an elevation of blood glucose. In brain slices glucagon stimulated the incorporation of beta-hydroxybutyrate into CO2 both in the presence or absence of additional glucose. These results demonstrate that glucagon has a direct effect on brain metabolism which may contribute to the increased tolerance for hypoxia. They, however, do not exclude the possibility that glucagon is working in addition to increase hypoxic survival in ketotic mice by increasing the availability of glucose to the brain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)324-328
Number of pages5
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1984
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Advanced and Specialized Nursing


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