Differential effects of epinephrine on glucose production and disposal in man

Am J Physiol. 1979 Oct;237(4):E356-62. doi: 10.1152/ajpendo.1979.237.4.E356.


Normal subjects were infused 1) with epinephrine (50 ng/(kg.min)) for 180 min followed by epinephrine plus glucagon (3 ng/(kg.min)) for 60 min after which the epinephrine infusion rate was increased (125 ng/(kg.min)) or 2) with epinephrine plus somatostatin (500 microgram/h) for 180 min. Epinephrine increased glucose production and plasma glucagon transiently but caused persistent suppression of glucose clearance and sustained hyperglycemia (despite increased plasma insulin and gluconeogenic substrates); glucose production increased again on addition of glucagon and on increasing the epinephrine infusion rate. During epinephrine plus somatostatin, glucose production still increased transiently, but further suppression of glucose clearance caused more marked hyperglycemia. In conclusion, 1) in man hyperepinephrinemia within the physiological range caused sustained suppression of glucose clearance but only a transient increase in glucose production; 2) this transient hepatic response a) was not due to glycogen or substrate depletion, b) occurred without changes in plasma glucagon or insulin, c) was specific for epinephrine but permitted subsequent responses to changes in plasma epinephrine; 3) epinephrine can serve as a physiological regulator of glucose homeostasis in man both by increasing glucose production and by decreasing glucose clearance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Epinephrine / administration & dosage
  • Epinephrine / pharmacology*
  • Fasting
  • Female
  • Glucagon / administration & dosage
  • Glucagon / pharmacology
  • Glucose / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Infusions, Parenteral
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Male
  • Somatostatin / administration & dosage
  • Somatostatin / pharmacology


  • Somatostatin
  • Glucagon
  • Glucose
  • Epinephrine