Direct effects of recurrent hypoglycaemia on adrenal catecholamine release

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In Type 1 and advanced Type 2 diabetes mellitus, elevation of plasma epinephrine plays a key role in normalizing plasma glucose during hypoglycaemia. However, recurrent hypoglycaemia blunts this elevation of plasma epinephrine. To determine whether recurrent hypoglycaemia affects peripheral components of the sympatho-adrenal system responsible for epinephrine release, male rats were administered subcutaneous insulin daily for 3 days. These recurrent hypoglycaemic animals showed a smaller elevation of plasma epinephrine than saline-injected controls when subjected to insulin-induced hypoglycaemia. Electrical stimulation of an adrenal branch of the splanchnic nerve in recurrent hypoglycaemic animals elicited less release of epinephrine and norepinephrine than in controls, without a change in adrenal catecholamine content. Responsiveness of isolated, perfused adrenal glands to acetylcholine and other acetylcholine receptor agonists was also unchanged. These results indicate that recurrent hypoglycaemia compromised the efficacy with which peripheral neuronal activity stimulates adrenal catecholamine release and demonstrate that peripheral components of the sympatho-adrenal system were directly affected by recurrent hypoglycaemia.

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