Cerebral blood flow (CBF) rises when the glucose supply to the brain is limited by hypoglycemia or glucose metabolism is inhibited by pharmacological doses of 2-deoxyglucose (DG). The present studies in unanesthetized rats with insulin-induced hypoglycemia show that the increases in CBF-measured with the [14C]iodoantipyrine method, are relatively small until arterial plasma glucose levels fall to 2.5 to 3.0 mM, at which point CBF rises sharply. A direct effect of insulin on CBF was excluded; insulin administered under euglycemic conditions maintained by glucose injections had no effects on CBF. Insulin administration raised plasma lactate levels and decreased plasma K+ and HCO3- concentrations and arterial pH. These could not, however, be related to the increased CBF because insulin under euglycemic conditions had similar effects without affecting CBF; furthermore, the inhibition of brain glucose metabolism with pharmacological doses (200 mg/kg intravenously) of DG increased CBF, just like insulin hypoglycemia, without altering plasma lactate and K+ levels and arterial blood gas tensions and pH. Nitric oxide also does not appear to mediate the increases in CBF. Chronic blockade of nitric oxide synthase activity by twice daily i.p. injections of N(G)-nitro- L-arginine methyl ester for 4 days or acutely by a single i.v. injection raised arterial blood pressure and lowered CBF in normoglycemic, hypoglycemic, and DG-treated rats but did not significantly reduce the increases in CBF due to insulin-induced hypoglycemia (arterial plasma glucose levels 2.5-3 mM) or pharmacological doses of deoxyglucose.
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