Overview of the Absorptive State

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Chapter: Biochemistry : The Feed-Fast Cycle

The absorptive (well-fed) state is the 2- to 4-hour period after ingestion of a normal meal.

The Feed-Fast Cycle


The absorptive (well-fed) state is the 2- to 4-hour period after ingestion of a normal meal. During this interval, transient increases in plasma glucose, amino acids, and triacylglycerols (TAG) occur, the latter primarily as components of chylomicrons synthesized by the intestinal mucosal cells. Islet tissue of the pancreas responds to the elevated levels of glucose with an increased secretion of insulin and a decreased release of glucagon. The elevated insulin-to-glucagon ratio and the ready availability of circulating substrates make the absorptive state an anabolic period characterized by increased synthesis of TAG and glycogen to replenish fuel stores and enhanced synthesis of protein. During this absorptive period, virtually all tissues use glucose as a fuel, and the metabolic response of the body is dominated by alterations in the metabolism of liver, adipose tissue, skeletal muscle, and brain. In this chapter, an “organ map” is introduced that traces the movement of metabolites between tissues. The goal is to create an expanded and clinically useful vision of whole-body metabolism.

Figure 24.1 Control mechanisms of metabolism and some typical response times. [Note: Response times may vary according to the nature of the stimulus and from tissue to tissue.]

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