Employing a precise and sensitive double-isotope derivative technic, plasma norepinephrine and epinephrine were measured in twenty-three normal subjects and fourteen diabetics during various metabolic conditions. Patients with poorly controlled diabetes showed a rise in norepinephrine, which correlated with the degree of metabolic derangement, during resting conditions. High epinephrine values were seen only in patients with moderate to severe ketoacidosis. During exercise, diabetic patients with ketosis demonstrated large increments in plasma catecholamines as compared to normals. During insulin treatment, when good control had been achieved, plasma catecholaniine levels were similar to those in normal subjects.
During prolonged fasting, plasma norepinephrine rose from 0.18 to 0.40 ng. per milliliter in four normal nonobese subjects. No change was observed in plasma epinephrine.
During insulin hypoglycemia, high plasma epinephrine levels were seen only in subjects in whom the blood glucose concentration declined to values below 20 mg. per 100 ml. Plasma norepinephrine rose as blood glucose concentrations decreased even in diabetics in whom values had not reached hypoglycemic levels. No correlation was observed between plasma epinephrine and increase in pulse rate during hypoglycemia.