Safety of surgical denervation of the common hepatic artery in insulin-resistant dogs

Physiol Rep. 2021 Mar;9(6):e14805. doi: 10.14814/phy2.14805.


The objective of this study was to assess the safety of surgical common hepatic artery denervation (CHADN). This procedure has previously been shown to improve glucose tolerance in dogs fed a high-fat high-fructose (HFHF) diet. We assessed the hypoglycemic response of dogs by infusing insulin at a constant rate (1.5 mU/kg/min) for 3 h and monitoring glucose and the counterregulatory hormones (glucagon, catecholamine, and cortisol). After an initial hypoglycemic study, the dogs were randomly assigned to a SHAM surgery (n = 4) or hepatic sympathetic denervation (CHADN, n = 5) and three follow-up studies were performed every month up to 3 months after the surgery. The level of norepinephrine (NE) in the liver and the pancreas was significantly reduced in the CHADN dogs, showing a decrease in sympathetic tone to the splanchnic organs. There was no evidence of any defect of the response to hypoglycemia after the CHADN surgery. Indeed, the extent of hypoglycemia was similar in the SHAM and CHADN groups (~45 mg/dl) for the same amount of circulating insulin (~50 µU/ml) regardless of time or surgery. Moreover the responses of the counterregulatory hormones were similar in extent and pattern during the 3 h of hypoglycemic challenge. Circulating lactate, glycerol, free fatty acids, and beta-hydroxybutyrate were also unaffected by CHADN during fasting conditions or during the hypoglycemia. There were no other notable surgery-induced changes over time in nutrients, minerals, and hormones clinically measured in the dogs nor in the blood pressure and heart rate of the animals. The data suggest that the ablation of the sympathetic nerve connected to the splanchnic bed is not required for a normal counterregulatory response to insulin-induced hypoglycemia and that CHADN could be a safe new therapeutic intervention to improve glycemic control in individuals with metabolic syndrome or type 2 diabetes.