Antecedent hypoglycemia, catecholamine depletion, and subsequent sympathetic neural responses.

PMID 16527844


Antecedent hypoglycemia is well known to impair sympathetic responses to subsequent hypoglycemia. However, it is less clear whether this occurs through altered sympathetic neural traffic or through decreased adrenal catecholamine release per se. It is also not clear whether antecedent hypoglycemia impairs sympathetic responsiveness to subsequent nonhypoglycemic sympathetic stimuli. We exposed rats to two episodes of insulin-induced hypoglycemia or sham hypoglycemia (n = 15 per group) on d -2 and -1 before exposure to transient (10 min) hypotension on d 0. Adrenal sympathetic nerve activity (SNA) was directly recorded in the conscious state and plasma catecholamine concentrations were assessed. We also examined the effect of antecedent hypoglycemia on phosphorylated and nonphosphorylated tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) protein expression as well as the expression of phenylethanolamine N-methyltransferase. Adrenal SNA was not significantly altered by antecedent hypoglycemia either at baseline of d 0 (before hypotension) or in response to hypotension. In contrast, plasma epinephrine (EPI) responsiveness was impaired by more than 50% (P = 0.025) in rats exposed to antecedent vs. sham hypoglycemia. Antecedent hypoglycemia had no effect on norepinephrine responsiveness to hypotension. In studies of adrenal tissue from separate rats, antecedent hypoglycemia decreased adrenal EPI content but did not significantly alter the expression of TH, phosphorylated TH, or phenylethanolamine N-methyltransferase. In summary, antecedent hypoglycemia impaired EPI responsiveness to subsequent hypotension despite no reduction in adrenal SNA and in association with reduced adrenal EPI content. Thus, antecedent hypoglycemia impaired responsiveness to a subsequent nonhypoglycemic sympathetic stimulus, an effect mediated at the level of the adrenal medullae.