Sex differences in hepatic gluconeogenic capacity after chronic alcohol consumption

Ken D. Sumida, Janeen M. Hill, Aleksey V. Matveyenko

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Alcohol-induced hypoglycemia has traditionally been attributed to the amount of ethanol consumed rather than any inherent decline in glucose output capacity by the gluconeogenic organs and/or an increase in skeletal muscle glucose uptake. Further, while the potential for sex differences that might impact glucose homeostasis following chronic alcohol consumption has been recognized, direct evidence has been noticeably absent. This paper will provide a brief review of past and present reports of the potential for sex differences in glucose homeostasis following chronic ethanol consumption. This paper will also provide direct evidence from our laboratory demonstrating sex differences from chronic alcohol consumption resulting in a decrement in glucose appearance and more importantly, a specific decline in hepatic gluconeogenic (HGN) capacity in the absence and presence of ethanol. All our studies involved 8 weeks of chronic alcohol consumption in male and female Wistar rats, as well as a 24 to 48 hour fast to deplete hepatic glycogen stores. Under the conditions of chronic alcohol consumption and an acute dose of ethanol, we provide in vivo evidence of an early decline in whole body glucose appearance in females fed an ethanol diet compared to controls. While the decline was also observed in males fed the alcohol diet, it occurred much later compared to ethanol fed females. The site for the decline in whole body glucose production (i.e., either the kidneys or the liver) was beyond the scope of our prior in vivo study. In a follow-up study using the in situ perfused liver preparation, we provide additional evidence for a specific reduction in HGN capacity from lactate in ethanol fed females compared to ethanol fed males in the absence of alcohol in the perfusion medium. Finally, employing the isolated hepatocyte technique, we report decrements in HGN from lactate in ethanol fed females compared to ethanol fed males in the presence of ethanol in the incubation medium. The mechanism for the specific decline in HGN within the liver of ethanol fed females remains to be determined. To the extent that our observations in animals can be extrapolated to humans, we conclude that alcoholic women are more susceptible to ethanol-induced hypoglycemia compared to alcoholic men.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)193-202
Number of pages10
JournalClinical Medicine and Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 2007


  • Alcohol-induced hypoglycemia
  • Glucose homeostasis
  • Males vs. females

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Community and Home Care


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