Adrenaline: insights into its metabolic roles in hypoglycaemia and diabetes

Anthony Verberne, William Korim, A Sabetghadam, Ida Llewellyn-Smith

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    40 Citations (Scopus)


    Adrenaline is a hormone that has profound actions on the cardiovascular system and is also a mediator of the fight-or-flight response. Adrenaline is now increasingly recognized as an important metabolic hormone that helps mobilize energy stores in the form of glucose and free fatty acids in preparation for physical activity or for recovery from hypoglycaemia. Recovery from hypoglycaemia is termed counter-regulation and involves the suppression of endogenous insulin secretion, activation of glucagon secretion from pancreatic α-cells and activation of adrenaline secretion. Secretion of adrenaline is controlled by presympathetic neurons in the rostroventrolateral medulla, which are, in turn, under the control of central and/or peripheral glucose-sensing neurons. Adrenaline is particularly important for counter-regulation in individuals with type 1 (insulin-dependent) diabetes because these patients do not produce endogenous insulin and also lose their ability to secrete glucagon soon after diagnosis. Type 1 diabetic patients are therefore critically dependent on adrenaline for restoration of normoglycaemia and attenuation or loss of this response in the hypoglycaemia unawareness condition can have serious, sometimes fatal, consequences. Understanding the neural control of hypoglycaemia-induced adrenaline secretion is likely to identify new therapeutic targets for treating this potentially life-threatening condition.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1425-1437
    Number of pages13
    JournalBritish Journal of Pharmacology
    Issue number9
    Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2016


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