To dissect the mechanisms of the prevention of hypoglycemia during fasting, eight normal humans were studied after overnight and 3-day fasts. Prolonged fasting resulted in the expected decrements in base-line glucose production and plasma glucose, insulin, and C-peptide and increments in plasma glucagon, epinephrine, norepinephrine, growth hormone, and cortisol. After the overnight and 3-day fasts, insulin restoration (0.2 mU·kg-1·min-1) alone resulted in transient decrements in glucose production and only 15 and 19% decrements in plasma glucose, respectively. Selective glucagon deficiency (somatostatin infusion with insulin and growth hormone replacement) resulted in transient decrements in glucose production and additional 24 and 29% decrements in plasma glucose, respectively. Notably, plasma glucose plateaued under both fasting conditions in both instances. Combined α- and β-adrenergic blockade (phentolamine and propranolol infusions) alone had no effect on glycemia under either fasting condition. However, progressive hypoglycemia developed during adrenergic blockade coupled with glucagon deficiency after the overnight fast (85 ± 2 to 48 ± 4 mg/dl, P < 0.001) and after the 3-day fast (65 ± 2 to 33 ± 1 mg/dl, P < 0.001). These were the result of both decrements in glucose production and increments in glucose clearance. Thus we conclude that during fasting 1) the prevention of hypoglycemia is not due solely to decreased insulin secretion. 2) Glucagon plays a primary counterregulatory role. Sympathochromaffin catecholamines are not normally critical but compensate and become critical when glucagon is deficient. Adrenomedullary epinephrine is probably the relevant catecholamine. 3) Other hormones, neurotransmitters, or substrate effects may, or may not, be involved; if they are, they appear to stand low in the hierarchy of glucoregulatory factors.
|Journal||American Journal of Physiology - Endocrinology and Metabolism|
|State||Published - 1989|