Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology

Effects of small intestinal glucose load on blood pressure, splanchnic blood flow, glycemia, and GLP-1 release in healthy older subjects

Lora Vanis, Diana Gentilcore, Christopher K. Rayner, Judith M. Wishart, Michael Horowitz, Christine Feinle-Bisset, Karen L. Jones


Postprandial hypotension is an important problem, particularly in the elderly. The fall in blood pressure is dependent on small intestinal glucose delivery and, possibly, changes in splanchnic blood flow, the release of glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), and sympathetic nerve activity. We aimed to determine in healthy older subjects, the effects of variations in small intestinal glucose load on blood pressure, superior mesenteric artery flow, GLP-1, and noradrenaline. Twelve subjects (6 male, 6 female; ages 65–76 yr) were studied on four separate occasions, in double-blind, randomized order. On each day, subjects were intubated via an anesthetized nostril, with a nasoduodenal catheter, and received an intraduodenal infusion of either saline (0.9%) or glucose at a rate of 1, 2, or 3 kcal/min (G1, G2, G3, respectively), for 60 min (t = 0–60 min). Between t = 0 and 60 min, there were falls in systolic and diastolic blood pressure following G2 and G3 (P = 0.003 and P < 0.001, respectively), but no change during saline or G1. Superior mesenteric artery flow increased slightly during G1 (P = 0.01) and substantially during G2 (P < 0.001) and G3 (P < 0.001), but not during saline. The GLP-1 response to G3 was much greater (P < 0.001) than to G2 and G1. Noradrenaline increased (P < 0.05) only during G3. In conclusion, in healthy older subjects the duodenal glucose load needs to be > 1 kcal/min to elicit a significant fall in blood pressure, while the response may be maximal when the rate is 2 kcal/min. These observations have implications for the therapeutic strategies to manage postprandial hypotension by modulating gastric emptying.

  • postprandial hypotension
  • heart rate
  • insulin
  • aging
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