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Diabetes. 2006 Apr;55(4):1080-7.

Blockade of GABA(A) receptors in the ventromedial hypothalamus further stimulates glucagon and sympathoadrenal but not the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal response to hypoglycemia.

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Yale University School of Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, Section of Endocrinology, 300 Cedar St., New Haven, CT 06519-1612, USA.


Hypoglycemia provokes a multifaceted counterregulatory response involving the sympathoadrenal system, stimulation of glucagon secretion, and the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis that is commonly impaired in diabetes. We examined whether modulation of inhibitory input from gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the ventromedial hypothalamus (VMH), a major glucose-sensing region within the brain, plays a role in affecting counterregulatory responses to hypoglycemia. Normal Sprague-Dawley rats had carotid artery and jugular vein catheters chronically implanted, as well as bilateral steel microinjection guide cannulas inserted down to the level of the VMH. Seven to 10 days following surgery, the rats were microinjected with artificial extracellular fluid, the GABA(A) receptor agonist muscimol (1 nmol/side), or the GABA(A) receptor antagonist bicuculline methiodide (12.5 pmol/side) before being subjected to a hyperinsulinemic-hypoglycemic (2.5 mmol/l) glucose clamp for 90 min. Following VMH administration of bicuculline methiodide, glucose infusion rates were significantly suppressed, whereas muscimol raised glucose infusion rates significantly compared with controls. Glucagon and epinephrine responses were elevated with the antagonist and suppressed with the agonist compared with controls. Corticosterone responses, however, were unaffected by either administration of the agonist or antagonist into the VMH. These data demonstrate that modulation of the GABAergic system in the VMH alters both glucagon and sympathoadrenal, but not corticosterone, responses to hypoglycemia. Our findings are consistent with the hypothesis that GABAergic inhibitory tone within the VMH can modulate glucose counterregulatory responses.

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