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Adipose tissue blood flow (ATBF) rises after nutrient ingestion. It is not clear whether this is due to insulin. The aim of this study was to investigate the role of insulin in the regulation of subcutaneous ATBF. We have investigated the role of insulin in the regulation of ATBF in normal, healthy subjects in a three-step procedure to determine the functional level at which insulin may potentially exert its effect. Fifteen subjects were studied on two occasions. On the first visit, 75 g oral glucose was given. In the second, similar plasma concentrations of insulin and glucose were achieved by dynamic intravenous infusions of insulin and glucose. The increase in ATBF after oral glucose (4.2 +/- 1.4 ml min(-1) (100 g tissue)(-1), P = 0.01) was significantly greater (P < 0.05) than that after intravenous infusions (1.5 +/- 0.6 ml min(-1) (100 g tissue)(-1) P < 0.05). For the local delivery of potentially vasoactive substances and simultaneous measurement of ATBF, we describe a novel combination of methods, which we have called 'microinfusion'. We have used this technique to show that locally infused insulin, even at pharmacological concentrations, had no demonstrable effect on ATBF in nine subjects. We conclude that whilst insulin does not have a direct effect on ATBF, it is likely to be an important mediator, possibly acting via sympathetic activation. In the postprandial state, other candidate peptides and hormones are also likely to play important roles.

Original publication




Journal article


J Physiol

Publication Date





1087 - 1093


Adipose Tissue, Administration, Oral, Blood Glucose, Fatty Acids, Nonesterified, Glucose, Glucose Clamp Technique, Humans, Hyperinsulinism, Infusions, Intravenous, Insulin, Isoproterenol, Kinetics, Regional Blood Flow, Time Factors