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Circulation. 1997 Apr 1;95(7):1783-90.

Vascular effects of acute hyperglycemia in humans are reversed by L-arginine. Evidence for reduced availability of nitric oxide during hyperglycemia.

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  • 1Department of Geriatrics and Metabolic Diseases, Second University of Naples, Italy.



Acute hyperglycemia may increase vascular tone in normal humans via a glutathione-sensitive, presumably free radical-mediated pathway. The objective of this study was to investigate whether or not the vascular effects of hyperglycemia are related to reduced availability of nitric oxide.


Acute hyperglycemia (15 mmol/L, 270 mg/dL) was induced in 12 healthy subjects with an artificial pancreas. Systolic and diastolic blood pressures, heart rate, and plasma catecholamines showed significant increases (P < .05) starting after 30 minutes of hyperglycemia; leg blood flow decreased significantly (15%; P < .05) at 60 and 90 minutes. Platelet aggregation to ADP and blood viscosity also showed significant increments (P < .05). The infusion of L-arginine (n = 7, 1 g/min) but not D-arginine (n = 5, 1 g/min) or L-lysine (n = 5, 1 g/min) in the last 30 minutes of the hyperglycemic clamp completely reversed all hemodynamic and rheological changes brought about by hyperglycemia. Infusion of NG-monomethyl-L-arginine (L-NMMA; 2 mg/min) to inhibit endogenous nitric oxide synthesis in 8 normal subjects produced vascular effects qualitatively similar to those of hyperglycemia but quantitatively higher (P < .05); however, heart rate and plasma catecholamine levels decreased during L-NMMA infusion, presumably as a consequence of baroreflex activation. Infusion of L-NMMA during hyperglycemia produced changes not different from those obtained during infusion of L-NMMA alone.


The results show that acute hyperglycemia in normal subjects causes significant hemodynamic and rheological changes that are reversed by L-arginine. Moreover, the effects of hyperglycemia are mimicked to a large extent, but not entirely, by infusion of L-NMMA. This suggests that hyperglycemia may reduce nitric oxide availability in humans.

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