SUMMARY Hepatocytes were isolated from eight species of birds ranging from 13 g zebra finches to 35 kg emus. This represents a 2800-fold range of body mass( M b ). Liver mass (g) was allometrically related to species body mass by the equation: liver mass=19.6× M b 0.91 . There was a significant allometric decline in hepatocyte respiration rate (HRR; nmol O 2 mg –1 dry mass min –1 ) with species body mass(kg) described by the relationship:HRR=5.27× M b –0.10 . The proportions of hepatocyte oxygen consumption devoted to (i) mitochondrial ATP production,(ii) mitochondrial proton leak and (iii) non-mitochondrial processes were estimated by using excess amounts of appropriate inhibitors. It was found that although hepatocyte respiration rate varied with body mass in birds, these processes constitute a relatively constant proportion of hepatocyte metabolic rate irrespective of the size of the bird species. The respective percentages were 54%, 21% and 25%. The portion of hepatocyte respiration devoted to ATP production for use by the sodium pump was estimated and found to be a relatively constant 24% of hepatocyte respiration and 45% of mitochondrial ATP production in different-sized bird species. These results are discussed in the context of competing theories to explain the metabolism–body size allometry, and are found to support the `allometric cascade' model.
This paper reviews top-down regulation analysis, a part of metabolic control analysis, and shows how it can be used to analyse steady states, regulation and homeostasis in complex systems such as energy metabolism in mitochondria, cells and tissues. A steady state is maintained by the variables in a system; regulation is the way the steady state is changed by external effectors. We can exploit the properties of the steady state to measure the kinetic responses (elasticities) of reactions to the concentrations of intermediates and effectors. We can reduce the complexity of the system under investigation by grouping reactions into large blocks connected by a small number of explicit intermediates-this is the top-down approach to control analysis. Simple titrations then yield all the values of elasticities and control coefficients within the system. We can use these values to quantify the relative strengths of different internal pathways that act to keep an intermediate or a rate constant in the steady state. We can also use them to quantify the relative strengths of different primary actions of an external effector and the different internal pathways that transmit its effects through the system, to describe regulation and homeostasis. This top-down regulation analysis has been used to analyse steady states of energy metabolism in mitochondria, cells and tissues, and to analyse regulation of energy metabolism by cadmium, an external effector, in mitochondria. The combination of relatively simple experiments and new theoretical structures for presenting and interpreting the results means that top-down regulation analysis provides a novel and effective way to analyse steady states, regulation and homeostasis in intricate metabolic systems.