Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (GB) and sleeve gastrectomy (SG) surgeries increase prandial insulin and glucagon secretion but reduce the endogenous glucose production (EGP) response to hypoglycemia in comparison with control subjects who had not undergone gastric surgery (CN), suggesting that parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) plays a role. Here, we investigated the effect of acute PNS blockade on the post-meal counterregulatory response to insulin-induced hypoglycemia in GB and SG compared with CN. Glucose kinetics and islet cell secretion were measured in nine subjects without diabetes with GB and seven with SG and five CN during hyperinsulinemic-hypoglycemic clamp (∼3.2 mmol/L) combined with meal ingestion on two separate days with and without intravenous atropine infusion. Glucose and hormonal levels were similar at baseline and during steady-state hypoglycemia before meal ingestion in three groups and unaffected by atropine. Atropine infusion diminished prandial systemic appearance of ingested glucose (RaO) by 30%, EGP by 40%, and glucagon response to hypoglycemia by 90% in CN. In GB or SG, blocking PNS had no effect on the RaO or meal-induced hyperglucagonemia but increased EGP in SG without any effect in GB (P < 0.05 interaction). These findings indicate that cholinergic signal contributes to the recovery from hypoglycemia by meal consumption in humans. However, bariatric surgery dissipates PNS-mediated physiologic responses to hypoglycemia in the fed state.

Article Highlights

  • Rerouted gut after Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (GB) and, to a lesser degree, after sleeve gastrectomy (SG) leads to larger glucose excursion and lower nadir glucose, predisposing individuals to hypoglycemia. Despite prandial hyperglucagonemia, endogenous glucose production response to hypoglycemia is reduced after GB or SG.

  • Parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) activity plays a key role in regulation of glucose kinetics and islet cell function.

  • We examined the effect of acute PNS blockade on counterregulatory glucose and islet cell response to meal ingestion during insulin-induced hypoglycemia among GB, SG, and control subjects who had not had gastric surgery.

  • Our findings demonstrate that cholinergic signal is critical in the recovery from hypoglycemia by meal ingestion in humans who have not had gastric surgery, although prandial PNS-mediated physiologic responses to hypoglycemia are differentially changed by GB and SG.

Clinical trial reg. no. NCT02823665, clinicaltrials.gov

This article contains supplementary material online at https://doi.org/10.2337/figshare.23699244.

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