Diabetes is characterized by dysregulated glucose homeostasis that leads to hyperglycemia, due in part to increased hepatic glucose production (GP) and insulin resistance. Excessive levels and/or action of glucocorticoids (GCs) are associated with obesity, insulin resistance, and hyperglycemia. We aim to delineate a mechanism of GC action in the mediobasal hypothalamus (MBH) that modulates GP in normal and pre-obese rodents.

Male SD rats underwent stereotaxic MBH bilateral cannulation and intravenous (iv) and intraarterial catheterization to enable simultaneous direct infusions into the MBH, iv infusions, and blood sampling, respectively. Mildly hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamps with tracer dilution methodology combined with MBH GC infusion ± GC receptor (GR) inhibition enables measurement of GP and utilization while assessing MBH GC interaction with its MBH receptors independent of changes in plasma insulin, glucagon, and glucose levels.

MBH GC infusion potently stimulates GP and lowers the requirement for exogenous glucose infusion without altering glucose utilization. This effect is mediated via GRs since co-infusion of GR antagonist mifepristone, or a HSP90 inhibitor, negates the ability of MBH GCs to increase GP. MBH GCs similarly increased glucose excursions during iv glucose tolerance tests, which was reversed with concomitant MBH mifepristone infusion. Rats fed with high fat diet (HFD) for 3 days had altered glucose kinetics and increased basal plasma corticosterone, insulin, and blood glucose levels without changes in body weight. Chronic MBH GR inhibition with MBH GR shRNA lowered GP compared to MBH mismatch control HFD rats with MBH vehicle infusions, suggesting that blocking excessive MBH GC action resulting from HFD-feeding attenuates GP to improve glucose homeostasis.

We provide novel evidence that MBH GC action modulates GP in healthy and pre-obese rats. Importantly, targeted inhibition of MBH GC action may help improve glucose regulation in obesity-related metabolic disease.


E. Beaulieu-Bayne: None. M. Cardoso: None. H. Kim: None. S. Yang: None. J.T. Yue: None.


Diabetes Canada; Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada; Alberta Diabetes Institute; Canadian Institutes of Health Research

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