Alcohol-induced ketonemia is associated with lowering of blood glucose, downregulation of gluconeogenic genes, and depletion of hepatic glycogen in type 2 diabetic db/db mice

Mukund P. Srinivasan, Noha M. Shawky, Bhupendra S. Kaphalia, Muthusamy Thangaraju, Lakshman Segar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Alcoholic ketoacidosis and diabetic ketoacidosis are life-threatening complications that share the characteristic features of high anion gap metabolic acidosis. Ketoacidosis is attributed in part to the massive release of ketone bodies (e.g., β-hydroxybutyrate; βOHB) from the liver into the systemic circulation. To date, the impact of ethanol consumption on systemic ketone concentration, glycemic control, and hepatic gluconeogenesis and glycogenesis remains largely unknown, especially in the context of type 2 diabetes. In the present study, ethanol intake (36% ethanol- and 36% fat-derived calories) by type 2 diabetic db/db mice for 9 days resulted in significant decreases in weight gain (∼19.5% ↓) and caloric intake (∼30% ↓). This was accompanied by a transition from macrovesicular-to-microvesicular hepatic steatosis with a modest increase in hepatic TG (∼37% ↑). Importantly, ethanol increased systemic βOHB concentration (∼8-fold ↑) with significant decreases in blood glucose (∼4-fold ↓) and plasma insulin and HOMA-IR index (∼3-fold ↓). In addition, ethanol enhanced hepatic βOHB content (∼5-fold ↑) and hmgcs2 mRNA expression (∼3.7-fold ↑), downregulated key gluconeogenic mRNAs (e.g., Pcx, Pck1, and G6pc), and depleted hepatic glycogen (∼4-fold ↓). Furthermore, ethanol intake led to significant decreases in the mRNA/protein expression and allosteric activation of glycogen synthase (GS) in liver tissues regardless of changes in the phosphorylation of GS, GSK-3β, or Akt. Together, our findings suggest that ethanol-induced ketonemia may occur in concomitance with significant lowering of blood glucose concentration, which may be attributed to suppression of gluconeogenesis in the setting of glycogen depletion in type 2 diabetes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)46-61
Number of pages16
JournalBiochemical Pharmacology
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019



  • Ethanol
  • Gluconeogenic mRNA
  • Glycemic control
  • Glycogen synthase
  • Ketonemia
  • Type 2 diabetes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Pharmacology

Cite this