, Volume 48, Issue 5, pp 976-983
Date: 14 Apr 2005

Insulin resistance induced by sucrose feeding in rats is due to an impairment of the hepatic parasympathetic nerves



A considerable proportion of whole-body insulin-stimulated glucose uptake is dependent upon the hepatic insulin-sensitising substance (HISS) in a pathway mediated by the hepatic parasympathetic nerves (HPNs). We tested the hypothesis that a high-sucrose diet leads to the impairment of the HPN-dependent component of insulin action.


We quantified insulin sensitivity using the rapid insulin sensitivity test, a modified euglycaemic clamp. Quantification of the HPN-dependent component was achieved by administration of a muscarinic receptor antagonist (atropine, 3 mg/kg).


Insulin sensitivity was higher in standard-fed than in sucrose-fed Wistar rats (305.6±34.1 vs 193.9±13.7 mg glucose/kg body weight; p<0.005) and Sprague–Dawley rats (196.4±5.9 vs 95.5±16.3 mg glucose/kg body weight; p<0.01). The HPN-independent component was similar in the two diet groups. Insulin resistance was entirely due to an impairment of the HPN-dependent component in both Wistar rats (164.3±28.1 [standard-fed] vs 26.5±7.5 [sucrose-fed] mg glucose/kg body weight; p<0.0001) and Sprague–Dawley rats (111.7±9.5 vs 35.3±21.4 mg glucose/kg body weight; p<0.01). Furthermore, HPN-dependent insulin resistance in Sprague–Dawley rats was already evident after 2 weeks of a high-sucrose diet (28.5±7.6 [2 weeks], 35.3±21.4 [6 weeks], 17.9±5.4 [9 weeks] mg glucose/kg body weight) and was independent of the nature of sucrose supplementation (12.3±4.7 [solid] and 17.9±5.4 [liquid] mg glucose/kg body weight).


Our results support the hypothesis that insulin resistance caused by sucrose feeding is due to an impairment of the HPN-dependent component of insulin action, leading to a dysfunction of the HISS pathway.