Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) have a potential to improve glucose metabolism in cirrhotic patients; however, the contribution of liver in this process has not been clarified. To estimate the effect of BCAA on glucose metabolism in liver, we evaluated the mRNA expression levels of glucose-sensing apparatus genes in HepG2 cells and in rat liver after oral administration of BCAA. HepG2 cells were cultured in low glucose (100 mg/dl) or high glucose (400 mg/dl) in the absence or presence of BCAA. The mRNA expression levels and protein levels of GLUT2 and liver-type glucokinase (L-GK) were estimated using RT-PCR and immunoblotting. The expression levels of transcriptional factors, including SREBP-1c, ChREBP, PPAR-gamma m and LXR alpha, were estimated. The mRNA expression levels of transcriptional factors, glycogen synthase, and genes involved in gluconeogenesis were evaluated in rat liver at 3 h after the administration of BCAA. BCAA accelerated the expression of GLUT2 and L-GK in HepG2 cells in high glucose. Expression levels of ChREBP, SREBP-1c, and LXR alpha were also increased in this condition. BCAA administration enhanced the mRNA expression levels of L-GK, SREBP-1c, and LXR alpha and suppressed the expression levels of G-6-Pase in rat liver, without affecting the expression levels of glycogen synthase or serum glucose concentrations. BCAA administration enhanced the bioactivity of the glucose-sensing apparatus, probably via the activation of a transcriptional mechanism, suggesting that these amino acids may improve glucose metabolism through the accelerated utility of glucose and glucose-6-phosphate in the liver. J. Cell. Biochem. 112: 3038, 2011. (C) 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.