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Mar 2012

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Glucose Production Assay in Primary Mouse Hepatocytes    

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Hepatic glucose production is a primary determinant of fasting hyperglycemia in type 2 diabetic patients. Glucagon-cAMP-PKA pathway increases, but insulin-PI3 kinase-Akt pathway suppresses glucose production. This assay aims to evaluate the ability of isolated mouse hepatocytes to release newly synthesized glucose mainly from lactate and pyruvate as the substrates (i.e. gluconeogenesis) under basal, cAMP-, or cAMP plus insulin-treated condition.

Materials and Reagents

  1. Primary mouse hepatocytes
  2. Medium199 (Life Technologies, Invitrogen™, catalog number: 11150-059 )
  3. Fetal bovine serum (FBS)
  4. bicinchoninic acid (BCA)
  5. Penicillin-Streptomycin, Liquid (Life Technologies, Invitrogen™, catalog number: 15140-122 )
  6. PBS+/+ (Sigma-Aldrich, catalog number: D8662 )
  7. Dulbecco’s modified eagle’s medium (DMEM), without glucose, L-glutamine, phenol red, sodium pyruvate and sodium bicarbonate, powder (Sigma-Aldrich, catalog number: D5030 )
  8. Sodium bicarbonate (Sigma-Aldrich, catalog number: S5761 )
  9. Sodium L-lactate (Sigma-Aldrich, catalog number: L7022 )
  10. Sodium pyruvate (Life Technologies, Invitrogen™, catalog number: 11360-070 )
  11. 100 mM MEM sodium pyruvate solution (100x), liquid (Life Technologies, Invitrogen™, catalog number: 11360-070 )
  12. 200 mM L-Glutamine (100x), liquid (Life Technologies, Invitrogen™, catalog number: 25030-081 )
  13. 1 M HEPES buffer solution (Life Technologies, Invitrogen™, catalog number: 15630-080 )
  14. pCPT-cAMP (Sigma-Aldrich, catalog number: C3912 )
  15. Insulin (Sigma-Aldrich, catalog number: I9278 )
  16. Autokit glucose (Wako, catalog number: 439-90901 )
  17. BCA protein assay kit (Thermo Fisher Scientific, catalog number: 23227 )
  18. HEPES
  19. Glucose production buffer (see Recipes)


  1. iMark Microplate Absorbance Reader (Bio-Rad, catalog number: 168-1135 )
  2. BD BioCoatCollagen I 6-well Plates (BD Biosciences, catalog number: 356400 )


  1. Primary mouse hepatocytes were cultured in BD BioCoatCollagen I 6-well plates (1 x 106 cells per well) in Medium199 supplemented with 5% FBS, penicillin (100 units/ml) and streptomycin (100 μg/ml).
  2. 6-48 h after plating, serum-starved overnight in 2 ml/well of Medium199 supplemented with penicillin (100 units/ml) and streptomycin (100 μg/ml) without FBS.
  3. Wash the cells by 2 ml/well of warm (37 °C) PBS+/+ twice.
  4. Replace PBS+/+ with 1 ml of glucose production buffer consisting of glucose-free DMEM (pH 7.4) without phenol red supplemented with 20 mM sodium lactate, 2 mM sodium pyruvate, 2 mM L-glutaminie and 15 mM HEPES.
  5. Incubate cells at 37 °C for 6 h with or without 0.1 mM pCPT-cAMP and/or 100 mM insulin, 0.2 ml of medium was collected and the glucose concentration was measured with a colorimetric glucose assay kit.
  6. Collect 0.2 ml of medium from each well.
  7. Measure the glucose concentration with a colorimetric glucose assay kit following manufacturer’s instruction.
  8. Normalized the readings to the total protein content determined from the whole-cell lysates by bicinchoninic acid (BCA) protein assay kit following manufacturer’s instruction.


  1. Glucose production buffer (Please note some component come with the DMEM as noted in paresis)
    Components (g/L)
    L-Arginine.HCl 0.084 (contained in DMEM)
    L-Cystine.2HCl 0.0626 (contained in DMEM)
    Glycine 0.030 (contained in DMEM)
    L-Histidine.HCl.H2O 0.042 (contained in DMEM)
    L-Isoleucine 0.105 (contained in DMEM)
    L-Leucine 0.105 (contained in DMEM)
    L-Lysine.HCl 0.146 (contained in DMEM)
    L-Methionine 0.03 (contained in DMEM)
    L-Phenylalanine 0.066 (contained in DMEM)
    L-Serine 0.042 (contained in DMEM)
    L-Threonine 0.095 (contained in DMEM)
    L-Tryptophan 0.016 (contained in DMEM)
    L-Tyrosine.2Na.2H2O 0.10379 (contained in DMEM)
    L-Valine 0.094 (contained in DMEM)
    Choline chloride 0.004 (contained in DMEM)
    Folic acid 0.004 (contained in DMEM)
    Myo-Inositol 0.0072 (contained in DMEM)
    Niacinamide 0.004 (contained in DMEM)
    D-Pantothenic acid (Hemicalcium) 0.004 (contained in DMEM)
    Pyridoxal.HCl 0.004 (contained in DMEM)
    Riboflavin 0.0004 (contained in DMEM)
    Thiamine.HCl 0.004 (contained in DMEM)
    Calcium chloride (anhydrous) 0.2 (contained in DMEM)
    Ferric nitrate.9H2O 0.0001 (contained in DMEM)
    Magnesium sulfate (Anhydrous) 0.09767 (contained in DMEM)
    Potassium chloride 0.4 (contained in DMEM)
    Sodium chloride 6.4 (contained in DMEM)
    Sodium phosphate monobasic (Anhydrous) 0.109 (contained in DMEM)
    L-Glutamine 0.584
    Sodium bicarbonate 3.7
    Sodium lactate 2.24
    Sodium pyruvate 0.22
    HEPES 3.575
    Adjust pH to 7.3, filter using a 0.45 μm filter and store at 4 °C.


This protocol was adapted from Sakai et al. (2012). The development of this protocol was supported by a Grant-in-Aid for Creative Scientific Research (to M.K.) and a Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (C) (21591155 to M.M.) from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan, a grant from the National Center for Global Health and Medicine (21S116 to M.M.), a grant from Takeda Science Foundation (to M.M.) and a Novo Nordisk Pharma Insulin Award (to M.M.).


  1. Matsumoto, M., Pocai, A., Rossetti, L., Depinho, R. A. and Accili, D. (2007). Impaired regulation of hepatic glucose production in mice lacking the forkhead transcription factor Foxo1 in liver. Cell Metab 6(3): 208-216.
  2. Sakai, M., Matsumoto, M., Tujimura, T., Yongheng, C., Noguchi, T., Inagaki, K., Inoue, H., Hosooka, T., Takazawa, K., Kido, Y., Yasuda, K., Hiramatsu, R., Matsuki, Y. and Kasuga, M. (2012). CITED2 links hormonal signaling to PGC-1alpha acetylation in the regulation of gluconeogenesis. Nat Med 18(4): 612-617.
  3. Yoon, J. C., Puigserver, P., Chen, G., Donovan, J., Wu, Z., Rhee, J., Adelmant, G., Stafford, J., Kahn, C. R., Granner, D. K., Newgard, C. B. and Spiegelman, B. M. (2001). Control of hepatic gluconeogenesis through the transcriptional coactivator PGC-1. Nature 413(6852): 131-138.
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Copyright: © 2012 The Authors; exclusive licensee Bio-protocol LLC.
How to cite: Matsumoto, M. and Sakai, M. (2012). Glucose Production Assay in Primary Mouse Hepatocytes. Bio-protocol 2(21): e284. DOI: 10.21769/BioProtoc.284.

If you have any questions/comments about this protocol, you are highly recommended to post here. We will invite the authors of this protocol as well as some of its users to address your questions/comments. To make it easier for them to help you, you are encouraged to post your data including images for the troubleshooting.

If you have any questions/comments about this protocol, you are highly recommended to post here. We will invite the authors of this protocol as well as some of its users to address your questions/comments. To make it easier for them to help you, you are encouraged to post your data including images for the troubleshooting.

Hongxiang Huang
Nanchang University
I have 2 questions about this protocol.
1. Is pCPT-cAMP used for enhancing gluconeogenesis, and could glucagon be an alternative stimulator?
2. Why do we need to add insulin to the glucose production buffer since insulin would inhibit the process of gluconeogenesis?
Thank you!
8/1/2022 2:38:01 AM Reply
Viviane D Augusto
Australian National University
Hi, Just a little question related to this protocol... Do you think this assay is sensitive enough to measure glucose production in HepG2 cells plated in a 96 well plate? The reagent I need to expose my cells during incubation period is quite precious and it will be very helpful to me to perform this assay in a small scale. Best regards, Viviane
3/8/2018 8:55:59 PM Reply
Joonbae Seo
I performed glucose production assay.
The glucose concentration is 0.5-2 mg/dL.
Is the concentration normal range or too low?
How can I improve the assay?
Thank you.
7/12/2016 6:24:03 AM Reply
Is glutamine an essential component in the glucose production buffer? And how critical is the pH 7.4 in the media? Is there any impact on glucose production if the pH is 8.0?
2/2/2013 7:48:08 PM Reply
Michihiro Matsumoto
Department of Molecular Metabolic Regulation, Diabetes Research Center, Research Institute, National Center for Global Health and Medicine, Japan

We think that glutamine is not essential, but we never perform the experiment to prove it. I don't know the impact of pH 8.0 on glucose production.

2/6/2013 1:41:51 AM Reply

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