Muscle sympathetic nerve activity is associated with liver insulin sensitivity in obese non-diabetic men

Daniel L.T. Chen, Rachael Brown, Carsten Liess, Anne Poljak, Aimin Xu, Jialiang Zhang, Michael Trenell, Arthur Jenkins, Donald Chisholm, Dorit Samocha-Bonet, Vaughan G. Macefield, Jerry R. Greenfield

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Introduction: Muscle sympathetic nerve activity (MSNA) may play a role in insulin resistance in obesity. However, the direction and nature of the relationship between MSNA and insulin resistance in obesity remain unclear. We hypothesized that resting MSNA would correlate inversely with both muscle and liver insulin sensitivity and that it would be higher in insulin-resistant vs. insulin-sensitive subjects. Materials and methods: Forty-five non-diabetic obese subjects were studied. As no significant relationships were found in women, the data presented in on 22 men aged 48 ± 12 years. Two-step (15 and 80 mU/m2/min) hyperinsulinaemic-euglycaemic clamps were performed using deuterated glucose to determine liver and muscle insulin sensitivity. Clinical and metabolic parameters were assessed. MSNA was measured via a microelectrode inserted percutaneously into the common peroneal nerve. Results: MSNA burst frequency correlated inversely with liver insulin sensitivity (r = -0.53, P = 0.02) and positively with the hepatokines C-reactive protein (CRP) and fibroblast growth factor (FGF)-19 (r = 0.57, P = 0.006, and r = -0.47, P = 0.03, respectively). MSNA burst frequency was lower in Liversen compared to Liverres (27 ± 5 vs. 38 ± 2 bursts per minute; P = 0.03). Muscle insulin sensitivity was unrelated to MSNA. Discussion: Sympathetic neural activation is related to liver insulin sensitivity and circulating hepatokines CRP and FGF-19 in non-diabetic obese men. These results suggest a potential hepato-endocrine-autonomic axis. Future studies are needed to clarify the influence of MSNA on liver insulin sensitivity in men.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101
Number of pages7
JournalFrontiers in Physiology
Issue numberFEB
Publication statusPublished - 28 Feb 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Insulin resistance
  • Liver insulin sensitivity
  • Men
  • Muscle sympathetic nervous activity
  • Obesity

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