Insulin sensitivity is mediated by the activation of the ACh/NO/cGMP pathway in rat liver

Maria P. Guarino, Nina C. Correia, W. Wayne Lautt, M. Paula Macedo

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43 Citations (Scopus)


The hepatic parasympathetic nerves and hepatic nitric oxide synthase (NOS) are involved in the secretion of a hepatic insulin sensitizing substance (HISS), which mediates peripheral insulin sensitivity. We tested whether binding of ACh to hepatic muscarinic receptors is an upstream event to the synthesis of nitric oxide (NO), which, along with the activation of hepatic guanylate cyclase (GC), permits HISS release. Male Wistar rats (8-9 wk) were anesthetized with pentobarbital sodium (65 mg/kg). Insulin sensitivity was assessed using a euglycemic clamp [the rapid insulin sensitivity test (RIST)]. HISS inhibition was induced by antagonism of muscarinic receptors (atropine, 3 mg/kg iv) or by blockade of NOS [NG-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester (L-NAME), 1 mg/kg intraportally (ipv)]. After the blockade, HISS action was tentatively restored using a NO donor [3-morpholynosydnonimine (SIN-1), 5-10 mg/kg ipv] or ACh (2.5-5 μg·kg-1·min-1 ipv). SIN-1 (10 mg/kg) reversed the inhibition caused by atropine (RIST postatropine 137.7 ± 8.3 mg glucose/kg; reversed to 288.3 ± 15.5 mg glucose/kg, n = 6) and by L-NAME (RIST post-L-NAME 152.2 ± 21.3 mg glucose/kg; reversed to 321.7 ± 44.7 mg glucose/kg, n = 5). ACh did not reverse HISS inhibition induced by L-NAME. The role of GC in HISS release was assessed using 1H-[1,2,4]oxadiazolo[4,3-a]quinoxalin-1-one (ODQ, 5 nmol/kg ipv), a GC inhibitor that decreased HISS action (control RIST 237.6 ± 18.6 mg glucose/kg; RIST post-ODQ 111.7 ± 6.2 mg glucose/kg, n = 5). We propose that hepatic parasympathetic nerves release ACh, leading to hepatic NO synthesis, which activates GC, triggering HISS action.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)G527–G532
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology
Issue number3 50-3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2004


  • Acetylcholine
  • Guanylate cyclase
  • Hepatic insulin sensitizing substance
  • Insulin resistance
  • Nitric oxide


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