Epinephrine's effect on metabolic rate is independent of changes in plasma insulin or glucagon

M. A. Staten, D. E. Matthews, P. E. Cryer, D. M. Bier

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Abstract

Epinephrine's effect to increase metabolic rate is accompanied by changes in the plasma concentrations of insulin, glucagon, and metabolic substrates. Because both glucagon and insulin have been reported to affect thermogenesis, these hormones might contribute to or modify the thermogenic response to epinephrine. To determine if the epinephrine-induced increase in metabolic rate is secondary to changes in glucagon or insulin or to changes in the fuels modulated by these hormones, metabolic rate was measured by indirect calorimetry in five normal weight post-absorptive young men on three occasions: study A, an intravenous epinephrine infusion alone; study B, a 4-h 'islet clamp' consisting of somatostatin infusion with basal insulin and glucagon replacement; and study C, an intravenous epinephrine infusion combined with the islet clamp. A 1-h base-line period preceded 2 h of epinephrine infusion. During the 4-h islet clamp (study B), metabolic rate and plasma concentrations of epinephrine, insulin, glucagon, and glucose remained unchanged. During the infusion of epinephrine alone (study A), metabolic rate and concentrations of glucagon, free fatty acids, and C-peptide increased as expected. Also, as expected, the glycemic response to epinephrine infusion was much larger when insulin and glucagon levels were fixed with the islet clamp (study C). In contrast, the metabolic rate and the free fatty acid concentration responded similarly to epinephrine infusion when insulin and glucagon were fixed (study C) and when they were changing (study A). We conclude that epinephrine increases metabolic rate independently of physiological changes in plasma glucagon or insulin or the circulating fuels they modulate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20/2
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Endocrinology and Metabolism
Volume257
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 1989

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