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Thromb Res. 1996 Apr 1;82(1):57-68.

Insulin exerts opposite effects on platelet function at physiological and supraphysiological concentrations.

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Department of Clinical and Biological Sciences, University of Turin, San Luigi Gonzaga Hospital, Italy.


In this study, we investigated the effects of a 3-min insulin incubation both at physiological and at supraphysiological concentrations on platelet aggregation and intraplatelet cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP) levels both in the absence and in the presence of phosphodiesterase inhibition. We observed that insulin at concentration in the range 0.25-2 nmol/L decreases platelet response to adenosine 5-diphosphate (ADP), being Effective Dose 50 (ED50) for ADP with 2 nmol/L insulin 164 +/- 15% of the basal value, p = 0.005; furthermore, insulin increases intraplatelet content of cGMP (from basal 7.3 +/-0.6 pmol/10(9) plts to 14.6 +/- 1.2 pmol/10(9) plts with 2 nmol/L insulin, p=0.0001) and does not affect the platelet cGMP increase induced by nitrates. On the contrary, at very elevated concentrations (25-200 nmol/L) insulin increases platelet aggregation to ADP (ADP ED50 with 200 nmol/L insulin being 81 +/- 4% of the basal value, p = 0.01), decreases intraplatelet content of cGMP (from basal 7.2 +/- 0.1 pmol/10(9) plts to 5.7 +/- 0.2 pmol/10(9) plts with 200 nmol/L insulin, p = 0.01) and attenuates the platelet cGMP increase induced by nitrates. When cGMP catabolism is inhibited by theophylline or the selective cGMP phosphodiesterase inhibitor zaprinast, insulin shows anti-aggregating effects also at highly supraphysiological concentration (25-200 nmol/L). These results indicate that insulin, depending on the concentrations employed, shows opposite effects on platelet function, and they provide information about the mechanisms involved: actually, insulin is able to increase both cGMP synthesis, through guanylate cyclase activation, and cGMP catabolism, through phosphodiesterase activation. At physiological or slightly supraphysiological concentrations the first phenomenon is prevailing, so that cGMP intraplatelet values increase and insulin shows antiaggregating properties, whereas, at supraphysiological concentrations, insulin reduces cGMP levels through a prevailing phosphodiesterase activation, as supported by the fact that, when cGMP catabolism is prevented, insulin shows anti-aggregating properties also at the highest concentrations used.

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