Blood glucose and plasma insulin and glucagon concentrations were determined in full-term rats delivered by cesarean section and exposed to 37° C. or 24° C. environmental temperature during the first hours of extrauterine life.

When newborn rats were maintained at thermal neutrality (37° C.), a transient period of hypoglycemia of two hours occurred, associated with a rapid fall in plasma insulin and a rise in plasma glucagon concentrations. During cold exposure (24° C.), the blood glucose level remained stable over the four hours studied; the decrease of plasma insulin was sluggish while the rise of plasma glucagon was unchanged.

In newborn rats maintained at 37° C., an intraperitoneal glucose load one hour after delivery produced a marked rise in blood glucose and plasma insulin concentrations one hour later. The distribution of experimental points suggested a sigmoidal dose-response curve. By contrast in newborn rats kept at room temperature (24° C.) the same glucose load did not induce any increase in plasma insulin in spite of hyperglycemia. However, phentolamine resulted in pronounced plasma insulin rise in hypothermic newborns in response to glucose administration. From these observations it is concluded that the in-vivo unresponsiveness of the beta cells to glucose at birth, reported by others, is mainly due to the experimental conditions.

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