Vascular-dependent effects of elevated glucose on postganglionic sympathetic neurons

Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2011 Apr;300(4):H1386-92. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.00300.2010. Epub 2011 Jan 7.


Perivascular sympathetic nerves are important determinants of vascular function that are likely to contribute to vascular complications associated with hyperglycemia and diabetes. The present study tested the hypothesis that glucose modulates perivascular sympathetic nerves by studying the effects of 7 days of hyperglycemia on norepinephrine (NE) synthesis [tyrosine hydroxylase (TH)], release, and uptake. Direct and vascular-dependent effects were studied in vitro in neuronal and neurovascular cultures. Effects were also studied in vivo in rats made hyperglycemic (blood glucose >296 mg/dl) with streptozotocin (50 mg/kg). In neuronal cultures, TH and NE uptake measured in neurons grown in high glucose (HG; 25 mM) were less than that in neurons grown in low glucose (LG; 5 mM) (P < 0.05; n = 4 and 6, respectively). In neurovascular cultures, elevated glucose did not affect TH or NE uptake, but it increased NE release. Release from neurovascular cultures grown in HG (1.8 ± 0.2%; n = 5) was greater than that from cultures grown in LG (0.37 ± 0.28%; n = 5; P < 0.05; unpaired t-test). In vivo, elevated glucose did not affect TH or NE uptake, but it increased NE release. Release in hyperglycemic animals (9.4 + 1.1%; n = 6) was greater than that in control animals (5.39 + 1.1%; n = 6; P < 0.05; unpaired t-test). These data identify a novel vascular-dependent effect of elevated glucose on postganglionic sympathetic neurons that is likely to affect the function of perivascular sympathetic nerves and thereby affect vascular function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Femoral Artery / drug effects
  • Femoral Artery / innervation
  • Femoral Artery / physiopathology
  • Glucose / pharmacology
  • Hyperglycemia / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular / innervation*
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular / physiopathology*
  • Norepinephrine / biosynthesis
  • Norepinephrine / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Sympathetic Fibers, Postganglionic / blood supply
  • Sympathetic Fibers, Postganglionic / drug effects
  • Sympathetic Fibers, Postganglionic / physiopathology*
  • Tyrosine 3-Monooxygenase / metabolism


  • Tyrosine 3-Monooxygenase
  • Glucose
  • Norepinephrine