Horm Metab Res 2005; 37(3): 127-132
DOI: 10.1055/s-2005-861289
Original Basic
© Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart · New York

Efficient Analysis of Hepatic Glucose Output and Insulin Action Using a Liver Slice Culture System

R.  Buettner1 , R.  H.  Straub1 , I.  Ottinger1 , M.  Woenckhaus*1 , J.  Schölmerich1 , L.  C.  Bollheimer1
  • 1Department of Internal Medicine I, *Department of Pathology, University of Regensburg, Germany
Further Information

Publication History

Received 29 April 2004

Accepted after revision 7 September 2004

Publication Date:
12 April 2005 (online)


Background: Liver slices have been reported to retain histological integrity and metabolic capacity for over 24 hours in flask culture systems, and they have been used for pharmacological and toxicological studies before. However, whether this method is suitable to measure hepatic glucose output is unknown. Methods: Precision-cut liver slices were prepared from fresh male rat liver. After high-glucose pre-incubation (11.2 mmol/l), medium was changed to low-glucose conditions (0.5 mmol/l). Glucose and lactate levels as well as aspartate aminotransferase activity were monitored for 50 minutes with or without addition of insulin (600 pmol/l) and/or epinephrine (0.5 µmol/l). Slice potassium content and histology were examined to prove liver viability. Results: We observed a stable glucose production from the liver slices of 0.3 - 0.4 µmol/g liver/min. Epinephrine increased (by 82 ± 30 %) and insulin decreased (by 80 ± 8 %) liver slice glucose output. Significant signs of ischemia were not detected. Conclusions: Hepatic glucose release can be reliably measured in a liver slice culture system, and it is regulated by major hormone systems. This method may be helpful for further characterization of direct insulin action and resistance in a complex tissue as the liver; however, pharmacological applications such as the analysis of drug effects on hepatic glucose metabolism can also be envisioned.


Roland Buettner, M. D.

Department of Internal Medicine I · University of Regensburg

93042 Regensburg · Germany

Phone: + 49 (941) 944-7017

Fax: + 49 (941) 944-7019

Email: roland.buettner@klinik.uni-regensburg.de