In normal man, the fasting state is characterized by release of alanine and glutamine from muscle and in situ muscle catabolism of branched chain amino acids (leucine, isoleucine, and valine). The alanine released by muscle is utilized by the liver for gluconeogenesis. Muscle nitrogen repletion occurs during protein feeding primarily by means of selective hepatic escape and muscle uptake of branched chain amino acids in ingested protein. In the diabetic, amino acid catabolism is exaggerated in the fasting state as reflected by increased uptake of alanine by the liver for gluconeogenesis and accelerated branched chain amino acid catabolism in muscle. After protein feeding, uptake of branched chain amino acids by muscle is reduced and these amino acids accumulate in increased amounts in arterial blood. Protein feeding also exaggerates the hyperglycemia of diabetes by causing an increase in hepatic glucose production. Diabetes is thus characterized by accelerated protein catabolism during fasting as well as diminished nitrogen repletion and hyperglycemia after protein feeding. The hyperketonemia of diabetes may however, have a restraining influence on protein catabolism thereby reducing alanine availability for gluconeogenesis.
(Arch Intern Med 137:507-513, 1977)