Acute hypoglycemia impairs the functioning of the central but not peripheral nervous system

M W J Strachan, I J Deary, F M E Ewing, S S C Ferguson, M J Young, B M Frier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Acute hypoglycemia impairs functions of the central nervous system, but few controlled studies have assessed the impact of hypoglycemia on the function of the peripheral nervous system. Sixteen non-diabetic humans underwent two separate hyperinsulinemic glucose clamp procedures on different study days, in a counter-balanced fashion. On one occasion, euglycemia was maintained (blood glucose, 5.0 mmol 1(-1)), and on the other occasion, hypoglycemia (blood glucose, 2.6 mmol 1(-1)) was induced. During each condition, subjects performed a combined psychometric, cognitive-experimental and psychophysical test battery, and measures were made tin the dominant median and common peroneal nerves) of the motor nerve conduction velocities and the amplitudes of the motor action potentials. Hypoglycemia caused impaired performance of general cognitive and information processing tasks (P<.05), but nerve conduction velocities and the amplitudes of motor action potentials were unaffected. Conduction velocities of the common peroneal nerve decreased from baseline within each experimental condition, perhaps due to hyperinsulinemia. Overall, these results demonstrate that multiple levels of information processing in the brain may alter while peripheral nerve function remains intact, and imply that peripheral neurons do not have the same obligate requirement for glucose as a metabolic fuel as neurons of the central nervous system. (C) 2001 Elsevier Science Inc. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-92
Number of pages10
JournalPhysiology & Behavior
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2001

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • hypoglycemia
  • cognition
  • nerve conduction
  • information processing


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