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Hum Brain Mapp. 2014 May;35(5):1944-56. doi: 10.1002/hbm.22304. Epub 2013 Aug 1.

Intranasal insulin increases regional cerebral blood flow in the insular cortex in men independently of cortisol manipulation.

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Institute of Psychobiology, Division of Clinical Psychophysiology, University of Trier, Trier, Germany.


Insulin and cortisol play a key role in the regulation of energy homeostasis, appetite, and satiety. Little is known about the action and interaction of both hormones in brain structures controlling food intake and the processing of neurovisceral signals from the gastrointestinal tract. In this study, we assessed the impact of single and combined application of insulin and cortisol on resting regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) in the insular cortex. After standardized periods of food restriction, 48 male volunteers were randomly assigned to receive either 40 IU intranasal insulin, 30 mg oral cortisol, both, or neither (placebo). Continuous arterial spin labeling (CASL) sequences were acquired before and after pharmacological treatment. We observed a bilateral, locally distinct rCBF increase after insulin administration in the insular cortex and the putamen. Insulin effects on rCBF were present regardless of whether participants had received cortisol or not. Our results indicate that insulin, but not cortisol, affects blood flow in human brain structures involved in the regulation of eating behavior.


basal ganglia; cerebral cortex; glucocorticoids; hippocampus; metabolism; pancreatic hormones

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