Factors Affecting Secretory Protein Production in Primary Cultures of Rat Hepatocytes

Michael S. Dahn, M. Patricia Lange, Ching ju Hsu, Scot R. Kimball, Leonard S. Jefferson

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14 Scopus citations


Previous studies suggest that protein synthesis in the liver may be influenced by alterations in hepatic proteolysis and gluconeogenesis. Since proteolysis and gluconeogenesis are accelerated in acute stress states (especially when associated with nutrient deprivation), these alterations may substantially affect hepatic protein synthesis, the integrity of which is important for host survival. In the present study, we have investigated albumin secretion and glucose production in primary cultures of rat hepatocytes in response to nutrient-limiting conditions, including amino acid depletion, proteolysis inhibition, and augmented gluconeogenesis. In nonlimiting nutrient culture medium containing 10 times the normal plasma amino acid concentrations, hepatocytes produced 8.05 ± 1.62 µg/plate-hr of albumin. Short-term (5 hr) inhibition of cellular protein degradation with the lysosomal protease inhibitor leupeptin did not influence albumin production, but caused a profound reduction (17-41%) when amino acid supply was reduced to the physiologic range (1.5-0.5 times, respectively). This indicates the need for active proteolysis for the maintenance of secretory protein production during nutrient limitation. Similarly, leupeptin inhibited glucose production by 22-30% at physiologic (1.5 times and 0.5 times, respectively) amino acid concentrations. Additionally, hepatocyte glucose production could be augmented 168% by epinephrine (2 µM) in 10 times medium, but this response was markedly depressed by leupeptin. Similar catecholamine-mediated effects, but of a smaller magnitude, were noted at lower medium amino acid concentrations. These findings indicate that hepatocyte albumin and glucose production are associated with the common factor of active cellular proteolysis, probably through the regulation of amino acid supply. However, protein synthesis exhibits a higher priority, since stimulated hepatocyte glucose production did not substantially alter albumin secretion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)38-44
Number of pages7
JournalProceedings of the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 1993

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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