Hypoglycemia Activates Novel Neural Circuit

Hypoglycemia Activates Novel Neural Circuit

The liver produces glucose and plays a key role in maintaining optimal glucose blood levels.  Researchers had assumed that sympathetic nerves triggered the liver to produce glucose and that parasympathetic nerves suppressed the organ’s glucose production.

In a study published online on December 8 in Nature Communications, Young-Hwan Jo, Ph.D., and colleagues made the surprising finding that the parasympathetic nervous system can play a key role in stimulating the liver to produce glucose. The researchers identified a novel parasympathetic circuit that can be activated when hypoglycemia occurs in mice.

Hypoglycemia can be a life-threatening condition when it strikes people with diabetes. Discovery of this neural circuit could lead to better strategies for responding to and counteracting hypoglycemia when it occurs in people with diabetes.

Dr. Jo is an associate professor of medicine and of molecular pharmacology at Einstein.

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