The sympathetic response to euglycaemic hyperinsulinaemia. Evidence from microelectrode nerve recordings in healthy subjects

Diabetologia. 1992 Sep;35(9):873-9. doi: 10.1007/BF00399935.


Sympathetic nervous system activation by insulin has been suggested as a mechanism explaining the association between insulin resistance and hypertension. We further examined the effect of insulin by direct microneurographic muscle and skin nerve sympathetic activity recordings during euglycaemic insulin clamps in healthy subjects. The mean plasma insulin level was elevated from 5.3 +/- 0.7 to 92.2 +/- 2.2 mU/l in seven subjects during a 90-min one-step clamp. In six other subjects plasma insulin was further raised from 85.7 +/- 4.0 mU/l to 747 +/- 53 mU/l between 45-90 min (two-step clamp). Four of the latter subjects received a sham clamp with NaCl infusions only on a second recording session. At the low dose of insulin muscle nerve sympathetic activity increased from a resting level of 22.7 +/- 5.0 bursts per min to 27.7 +/- 5.0 bursts per min at 15 min (p less than 0.05). The increases in muscle nerve sympathetic activity were significant (p less than 0.001; ANOVA) throughout insulin infusion, with a slight further increase (from 29.2 +/- 1.6 to 32.3 +/- 1.9 bursts per min) at the supraphysiological insulin concentration. During sham clamps muscle nerve sympathetic activity did not increase. Both insulin clamps induced minor, but significant, increases in forearm venous plasma noradrenaline concentrations. Skin nerve sympathetic activity (n = 3) did not change during insulin infusions. Heart rate increased slightly but significantly (p less than 0.005), during the insulin clamps. Blood pressure was not notably affected. In conclusion, hyperinsulinaemia was associated with increased vasoconstrictor nerve activity to skeletal muscle and with no change of sympathetic outflow to skin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism*
  • Blood Pressure / physiology*
  • Electrodes, Implanted
  • Female
  • Glucose Clamp Technique
  • Humans
  • Hyperinsulinism / physiopathology
  • Insulin / pharmacology
  • Insulin / physiology*
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology
  • Male
  • Microelectrodes
  • Muscles / innervation
  • Pressoreceptors / physiology
  • Reference Values
  • Skin / innervation
  • Sympathetic Nervous System / drug effects
  • Sympathetic Nervous System / physiology*
  • Vasoconstriction / physiology


  • Blood Glucose
  • Insulin