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J Clin Invest. 1979 Aug;64(2):636-42.

Concentrations of insulin and insulin receptors in the brain are independent of peripheral insulin levels. Studies of obese and streptozotocin-treated rodents.


In view of the potent influences of the central nervous system on glucose metabolism and on its hormonal regulators, and our recent finding of insulin and insulin receptors throughout the central nervous systsem, we have examined extreme conditions of hyperinsulinemia (obese mice) and hypoinsulinemia (streptozotocin-treated rats) with respect to changes in brain insulin and receptor content. Sprague-Dawley rats given streptozotocin (100 mg/kg body wt) developed severe diabetes and by 48 h showed no change in brain insulin. Rats given 65 mg/kg streptozotocin also had severe diabetes, but survived longer. Both at 7 d and at 30 d after streptozotocin treatment there was no significant change in brain insulin or in brain content of insulin receptors, despite the fact that peripheral hepatic receptors were elevated and pancreatic insulin was markedly depleted. The obese mice were studied at 8-10 wk when peripheral plasma insulin concentrations were 50-fold elevated and receptors on peripheral target cells were reduced to congruent with40-50% of normal; brain insulin concentrations and receptor content were indistinguishable from those of thin littermates. Thus, brain insulin, which is typically 10 times higher than plasma insulin concentrations, and brain receptor content, which is equivalent to receptor content on peripheral tissues, appears to be regulated entirely independently of hormone and receptor in the periphery. These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that insulin in the central nervous system is synthesized by the neural elements, and plays a role in the central nervous system which is unrelated to peripheral glucose metabolism.

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