Morphine treatment in normal intact rats caused a dose-dependent increase in hepatic tyrosine aminotransferase (TAT) activity, as demonstrable up to 2 hr of exposure to the opioid alkaloid. However, such increase in TAT activity was invariably preceded by a prior decline in the enzyme level, as observed after 15 min of morphine treatment. Such an initial decline in activity was not demonstrable in diabetic animals. Further studies indicate that morphine inhibited the insulin-induced increase in TAT activity, a phenomenon which could be reversed by the opioid antagonist naloxone. The results suggest an opioid control mechanism in the regulation of the insulin-inducible form of TAT and indicate the possibilities of a trophic role of endogenous opiates in gluconeogenesis.
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