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Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2004 Jul;287(1):E16-24. Epub 2004 Mar 2.

Effect of sex on counterregulatory responses to exercise after antecedent hypoglycemia in type 1 diabetes.

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  • 1715 PRB, Division of Diabetes, Endocrinology & Metabolism, Vanderbilt Univ. School of Medicine, Nashville, TN 37232-6303, USA.


A marked sexual dimorphism exists in healthy individuals in the pattern of blunted neuroendocrine and metabolic responses following antecedent stress. It is unknown whether significant sex-related counterregulatory differences occur during prolonged moderate exercise after antecedent hypoglycemia in type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM). Fourteen patients with T1DM (7 women and 7 men) were studied during 90 min of euglycemic exercise at 50% maximal O(2) consumption after two 2-h episodes of previous-day euglycemia (5.0 mmol/l) or hypoglycemia of 2.9 mmol/l. Men and women were matched for age, glycemic control, duration of diabetes, and exercise fitness and had no history or evidence of autonomic neuropathy. Exercise was performed during constant "basal" intravenous infusion of regular insulin (1 U/h) and a 20% dextrose infusion, as needed to maintain euglycemia. Plasma glucose and insulin levels were equivalent in men and women during all exercise and glucose clamp studies. Antecedent hypoglycemia produced a relatively greater (P < 0.05) reduction of glucagon, epinephrine, norepinephrine, growth hormone, and metabolic (glucose kinetics) responses in men compared with women during next-day exercise. After antecedent hypoglycemia, endogenous glucose production (EGP) was significantly reduced in men only, paralleling a reduction in the glucagon-to-insulin ratio and catecholamine responses. In conclusion, a marked sexual dimorphism exists in a wide spectrum of blunted counterregulatory responses to exercise in T1DM after prior hypoglycemia. Key neuroendocrine (glucagon, catecholamines) and metabolic (EGP) homeostatic responses were better preserved during exercise in T1DM women after antecedent hypoglycemia. Preserved counterregulatory responses during exercise in T1DM women may confer greater protection against hypoglycemia than in men with T1DM.

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