We recently described that carotid body (CB) over-activation is involved in the aetiology of insulin resistance and arterial hypertension in animal models of the metabolic syndrome. Additionally, we have demonstrated that CB activity is increased in animal models of insulin resistance, and that carotid sinus nerve (CSN) resection prevents the development of insulin resistance and arterial hypertension induced by high-energy diets. Here, we tested whether the functional abolition of CB by CSN transection would reverse pre-established insulin resistance, dyslipidaemia, obesity, autonomic dysfunction and hypertension in animal models of the metabolic syndrome. The effect of CSN resection on insulin signalling pathways and tissue-specific glucose uptake was evaluated in skeletal muscle, adipose tissue and liver.
Experiments were performed in male Wistar rats submitted to two high-energy diets: a high-fat diet, representing a model of insulin resistance, hypertension and obesity, and a high-sucrose diet, representing a lean model of insulin resistance and hypertension. Half of each group was submitted to chronic bilateral resection of the CSN. Age-matched control rats were also used.
CSN resection normalised systemic sympathetic nervous system activity and reversed weight gain induced by high-energy diets. It also normalised plasma glucose and insulin levels, insulin sensitivity lipid profile, arterial pressure and endothelial function by improving glucose uptake by the liver and perienteric adipose tissue.
We concluded that functional abolition of CB activity restores insulin sensitivity and glucose homeostasis by positively affecting insulin signalling pathways in visceral adipose tissue and liver.