Glucose metabolism and autonomic function in healthy individuals and patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus at rest and during exercise

Takuto Hamaoka, Urs A. Leuenberger, Rachel C. Drew, Matthew Murray, Cheryl Blaha, Jonathan Carter Luck, Lawrence I. Sinoway, Jian Cui

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Autonomic dysfunction is a common complication of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). However, the character of dysfunction varies in different reports. Differences in measurement methodology and complications might have influenced the inconsistent results. We sought to evaluate comprehensively the relationship between abnormal glucose metabolism and autonomic function at rest and the response to exercise in healthy individuals and T2DM patients. We hypothesized that both sympathetic and parasympathetic indices would decrease with the progression of abnormal glucose metabolism in individuals with few complications related to high sympathetic tone. Twenty healthy individuals and 11 T2DM patients without clinically evident cardiovascular disease other than controlled hypertension were examined. Resting muscle sympathetic nerve activity (MSNA), heart rate variability, spontaneous cardiovagal baroreflex sensitivity (CBRS), sympathetic baroreflex sensitivity and the MSNA response to handgrip exercise were measured. Resting MSNA was lower in patients with T2DM than in healthy control subjects (P = 0.011). Resting MSNA was negatively correlated with haemoglobin A1c in all subjects (R = −0.45, P = 0.024). The parasympathetic components of heart rate variability and CBRS were negatively correlated with glycaemic/insulin indices in all subjects and even in the control group only (all, P < 0.05). In all subjects, the MSNA response to exercise was positively correlated with fasting blood glucose (R = 0.69, P < 0.001). Resting sympathetic activity and parasympathetic modulation of heart rate were decreased in relationship to abnormal glucose metabolism. Meanwhile, the sympathetic responses to handgrip were preserved in diabetics. The responses were correlated with glucose/insulin parameters throughout diabetic and control subjects. These results suggest the importance of a comprehensive assessment of autonomic function in T2DM.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)214-226
Number of pages13
JournalExperimental Physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Physiology (medical)

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