American journal of physiology. Endocrinology and metabolism

Enhanced insulin secretion responsiveness and islet adrenergic desensitization after chronic norepinephrine suppression is discontinued in fetal sheep.

PMID 24253046


Intrauterine growth-restricted (IUGR) fetuses experience prolonged hypoxemia, hypoglycemia, and elevated norepinephrine (NE) concentrations, resulting in hypoinsulinemia and β-cell dysfunction. Previously, we showed that acute adrenergic blockade revealed enhanced insulin secretion responsiveness in the IUGR fetus. To determine whether chronic exposure to NE alone enhances β-cell responsiveness afterward, we continuously infused NE into fetal sheep for 7 days and, after terminating the infusion, evaluated glucose-stimulated insulin secretion (GSIS) and glucose-potentiated arginine-induced insulin secretion (GPAIS). During treatment, NE-infused fetuses had greater (P < 0.05) plasma NE concentrations and exhibited hyperglycemia (P < 0.01) and hypoinsulinemia (P < 0.01) compared with controls. GSIS during the NE infusion was also reduced (P < 0.05) compared with pretreatment values. GSIS and GPAIS were approximately fourfold greater (P < 0.01) in NE fetuses 3 h after the 7 days that NE infusion was discontinued compared with age-matched controls or pretreatment GSIS and GPAIS values of NE fetuses. In isolated pancreatic islets from NE fetuses, mRNA concentrations of adrenergic receptor isoforms (α1D, α2A, α2C, and β1), G protein subunit-αi-2, and uncoupling protein 2 were lower (P < 0.05) compared with controls, but β-cell regulatory genes were not different. Our findings indicate that chronic exposure to elevated NE persistently suppresses insulin secretion. After removal, NE fetuses demonstrated a compensatory enhancement in insulin secretion that was associated with adrenergic desensitization and greater stimulus-secretion coupling in pancreatic islets.

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