Published by Springer-Verlag on behalf of the Federation of European Biochemical Societies
European Journal of Biochemistry vol:153 issue:3 pages:621-8
Mechanisms of glycogenolysis have been investigated in a comparative study with Wistar rats and gsd rats, which maintain a high glycogen concentration in the liver as a result of a genetic deficiency of phosphorylase kinase. In Wistar hepatocytes the rate of glycogenolysis, as modulated by glucagon and by glucose, was proportional to the concentration of phosphorylase a. In suspensions of gsd hepatocytes the rate of glycogenolysis was far too high as compared with the low level of phosphorylase a; in addition, only a minor fraction of the glycogen lost was recovered as glucose and lactate, owing to the accumulation of oligosaccharides. When the gsd hepatocytes were incubated in the presence of an inhibitor of alpha-amylase (BAY e 4609) glycogenolysis and the formation of oligosaccharides virtually ceased; the production of glucose plus lactate, already modest in the absence of BAY e 4609, was further decreased by 40%, owing to the suppression of a pathway for glucose production by the successive actions of alpha-amylase and alpha-glucosidase. Evidence was obtained that gsd hepatocytes are more fragile, and that amylolysis of glycogen occurred in damaged cells and/or in the extracellular medium. This may even occur in vivo, since quick-frozen liver samples from anesthetized gsd rats contained severalfold higher concentrations of oligosaccharides than did similar samples from Wistar rats. However, administration of a hepatotoxic agent (CCl4) caused hepatic glycogen depletion in Wistar rats, but not in gsd rats. The administration of phloridzin and of vinblastine, which have been proposed to induce glycogenolysis in the lysosomal system, did not decrease the hepatic glycogen level in gsd rats. Taken together, the data indicate that only the phosphorolytic degradation of glycogen is metabolically important, and that alpha-amylolysis is an indication of an increased fragility of gsd hepatocytes, which becomes prominent when these cells are incubated in vitro.