insulin and the brain

erasmus harland p.s.e.harland at
Tue Sep 5 14:49:10 EST 1995

thanks for your note. I am studying insulin resistance in adolescents in 
deprived areas and have found that low birth weight results in higher 
cortisol levels.  David Barkers group has found that low birth weight is 
associated with increased death rate for coronary heart disease, 
syndrome X etc in the UK - they followed up 6000 subects born in 1911 - 
20.   My hypothesis is that insulin resistance is the result of high 
cortisol due to sensitization of the pituitary at birth - handling 
results in reduced cortisol when animals are stressed in adulthood - see 
Meaney, Sapolski and Plomin's stuff on neonatal rats.  Cortisol 
increases insulin resistance in muscle.  This would have the effect of 
reducing glucose uptake into muscle, resulting in energy saving which, 
in conditions of famine, protect the brain from hypoglycaemia in 
nutrient deficit conditions.  Pregnant women show this mechanism which 
reduces energy loss - 70 KJ's worth.  This idea depends on the brain 
having a different glucose transport system from muscle, which is not 
impaired by insulin resistance. Does this make sense?

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