Insulin Secretion and Glucose Kinetics During Exercise With and Without Pharmacological α1- and α2-Receptor Blockade

  1. Pauliina Aarnio12,
  2. Torsten Lauritsen3 and
  3. Flemming Dela124
  1. 1Department of Medical Physiology, the Panum Institute, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen
  2. 2Copenhagen Muscle Research Centre, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen
  3. 3Department of Anesthesia, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen
  4. 4Department of Clinical Physiology and Nuclear Medicine, Herlev Hospital, Herlev, Denmark


    The mechanism behind exercise-induced decreases in plasma insulin concentrations was examined in eight healthy young men. In addition, the influence of specific α1- and α2-adrenoceptor blockade on glucose kinetics during exercise was studied. To test the hypothesis that exercise-induced decreases in insulin secretion are mediated via α2-adrenoceptors, all subjects exercised for 60 min on separate occasions under four conditions: with and without α1-receptor blockade (1 mg prazosin) and with and without or α2-receptor blockade (15 mg yohimbine). Glucose kinetics were measured using [3-3H]glucose. During exercise with α2-receptor blockade, the insulin concentration initially increased (first 20 min) then decreased, whereas it continually decreased in the corresponding control experiment. The C-peptide concentration did not change during exercise with α2-receptor blockade but decreased in the control experiment. During exercise with α1-receptor blockade and corresponding control experiments, insulin and C-peptide levels always decreased. With α1-receptor blockade, the glucose concentration increased (first 30 min) and then decreased, whereas it slightly decreased in all other experiments. In addition, with α1-receptor blockade, the glucose rate of appearance (Ra) increased rapidly (because of higher catecholamine concentrations in α1-receptor blockade versus control) and the glucose rate of disappearance (Rd) was higher compared with control. During exercise with α2-receptor blockade, the Ra and Rd were always lower compared with control. Therefore, we conclude that exercise-induced decreases in insulin secretion are mediated via α2-adrenoceptors and that blockade of α1- and α2-adrenoceptors during exercise elicits opposite responses in glucose Ra and Rd.


    • Address correspondence and reprint requests to Flemming Dela, MD, Associate Professor, Department of Medical Physiology, the Panum Institute, Bldg. 12.4.7., University of Copenhagen, Blegdamsvej 3, 2200 Copenhagen N, Denmark. E-mail: f.dela{at}

      Received for publication 14 November 2000 and accepted in revised form 24 April 2001.

      ANOVA, analysis of variance; FFA, free fatty acid; MCR, metabolic clearance rate; Ra, rate of glucose appearance; Rd, rate of glucose disappearance.

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