Insulin blunts sympathetic vasoconstriction through the alpha 2-adrenergic pathway in humans.
We investigated the mechanisms underlying the insulin-induced attenuation of sympathetic forearm vasoconstriction in healthy humans. In 5 subjects, we applied 20 mm Hg lower body negative pressure for 30 minutes in control conditions and during a 60-minute infusion of insulin (0.05 mU/kg per minute) in the brachial artery and measured forearm norepinephrine kinetics and hemodynamics. In 11 subjects, we applied graded lower body negative pressure at 5, 10, 15, and 20 mm Hg for 5 minutes each in control conditions and during the simultaneous intrabrachial administration of insulin (0.05 mU/kg per minute) (5 subjects) or insulin plus ouabain (3.5 micrograms/min per liter) (6 subjects) to investigate whether insulin acts through a potentiation of the vascular smooth muscle Na+,K(+)-ATPase. To assess a possible effect of insulin on a specific adrenergic receptor pathway, in a further study group we evaluated (1) the forearm vascular response to intrabrachial infusion of the alpha 1-adrenergic receptor agonist phenylephrine (0.5, 1, and 2 micrograms/kg per minute; n = 7) and of the alpha 2-adrenergic receptor agonist BHT-933 (0.5, 1, 2, and 4 micrograms/kg per minute; n = 9), and (2) the effects of intra-arterial infusion of prazosin (0.5 microgram/100 mL per minute) alone or combined with insulin on the forearm vascular response to graded lower body negative pressure (7 subjects). Insulin blunted the peak increase in forearm vascular resistance (from 13 +/- 2 to 6 +/- 2 U, P < .05) but not the rise in forearm norepinephrine spillover induced by 20 mm Hg lower body negative pressure (from 8.3 +/- 1.8 to 11.1 +/- 3.5 pmol/min per liter, P = NS). Ouabain administration did not prevent the insulin-induced attenuation of the forearm vasoconstrictive response to graded lower body negative pressure. Insulin infusion in the brachial artery did not modify the forearm vasoconstriction induced by intra-arterial infusion of phenylephrine but significantly reduced the increase in forearm vascular resistance induced by BHT-933 (F = 6.111, P < .001). Finally, intra-arterial infusion of prazosin significantly attenuated the forearm vasoconstriction induced by graded lower body negative pressure. The residual vasoconstrictive response was abolished by insulin infusion. Taken together, these findings suggest that insulin interacts with the sympathetic nervous system at the vascular level predominantly through the alpha 2-adrenergic vasoconstrictive pathway.
- Copyright © 1994 by American Heart Association