Effects of mental stress on insulin-mediated glucose metabolism and energy expenditure in lean and obese women

Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2000 Oct;279(4):E799-805. doi: 10.1152/ajpendo.2000.279.4.E799.


The effects of the sympathetic activation elicited by a mental stress on insulin sensitivity and energy expenditure (VO(2)) were studied in 11 lean and 8 obese women during a hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp. Six lean women were restudied under nonselective beta-adrenergic blockade with propranolol to determine the role of beta-adrenoceptors in the metabolic response to mental stress. In lean women, mental stress increased VO(2) by 20%, whole body glucose utilization ([6,6-(2)H(2)]glucose) by 34%, and cardiac index (thoracic bioimpedance) by 25%, whereas systemic vascular resistance decreased by 24%. In obese women, mental stress increased energy expenditure as in lean subjects, but it neither stimulated glucose uptake nor decreased systemic vascular resistance. In the six lean women who were restudied under propranolol, the rise in VO(2), glucose uptake, and cardiac output and the decrease in systemic vascular resistance during mental stress were all abolished. It is concluded that 1) in lean subjects, mental stress stimulates glucose uptake and energy expenditure and produces vasodilation; activation of beta-adrenoceptors is involved in these responses; and 2) in obese patients, the effects of mental stress on glucose uptake and systemic vascular resistance, but not on energy expenditure, are blunted.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists / administration & dosage
  • Adult
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects
  • Blood Pressure / physiology
  • Cardiac Output / drug effects
  • Cardiac Output / physiology
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology
  • Epinephrine / blood
  • Female
  • Glucose / metabolism*
  • Heart Rate / drug effects
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Humans
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Insulin / blood*
  • Lactic Acid / blood
  • Norepinephrine / blood
  • Obesity / blood*
  • Oxygen Consumption / drug effects
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology
  • Propranolol / administration & dosage
  • Stress, Psychological / blood*
  • Sympathetic Nervous System / metabolism
  • Thinness / blood*
  • Vascular Resistance / drug effects
  • Vascular Resistance / physiology


  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists
  • Insulin
  • Lactic Acid
  • Propranolol
  • Glucose
  • Norepinephrine
  • Epinephrine