Effect of alpha-adrenergic stimulation and its blockade on glucose turnover in man

Am J Physiol. 1980 May;238(5):E467-72. doi: 10.1152/ajpendo.1980.238.5.E467.


Epinephrine (50 ng . kg-1 . min-1) was infused for 120 min in seven normal volunteers alone (combined alpha- and beta-adrenergic stimulation), with propranolol (alpha-adrenergic stimulation), and with propranolol plus phentolamine (alpha-adrenergic blockade superimposed on alpha-adrenergic stimulation). During alpha-adrenergic stimulation, plasma glucose and glucose production increased 32 and 42% less, respectively, than during infusion of epinephrine alone, whereas glucose clearance was suppressed comparably. Plasma insulin decreased during alpha-adrenergic stimulation but increased during infusion of epinephrine alone. Plasma epinephrine was threefold greater during infusion of epinephrine plus propranolol than during infusion of epinephrine alone. When alpha-adrenergic blockade was superimposed on alpha-adrenergic stimulation, the increases in plasma glucose and glucose production as well as the decreases in plasma insulin and glucose clearance observed during alpha-adrenergic stimulation were virtually abolished, whereas plasma epinephrine levels were unaltered. These results indicate that in man epinephrine can cause hyperglycemia via both alpha- and beta-adrenergic stimulation of glucose production and suppression of glucose clearance, either directly or indirectly. alpha-Adrenergic effects on glucose production and clearance may be mediated by inhibition of insulin secretion.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism*
  • Epinephrine / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Glucagon / blood*
  • Humans
  • Hyperglycemia / etiology
  • Insulin / blood*
  • Male
  • Phentolamine / pharmacology
  • Propranolol / pharmacology


  • Blood Glucose
  • Insulin
  • Glucagon
  • Propranolol
  • Epinephrine
  • Phentolamine