1. Previous studies have shown that non-selective β-adrenoceptor blockade attenuates the blood glucose recovery rate after hypoglycaemia in type I diabetes. Apart from possible effects on hepatic glycogenolysis propranolol also inhibits the release of the important gluconeogenic substrates lactate and glycerol.
2. To determine whether the effect of non-selective β-adrenoceptor blockade on glucose recovery could be associated with diminished availability of gluconeogenic substrates, lactate and glycerol were infused during hypoglycaemia in four insulin-dependent diabetic patients. Comparisons were made of the blood glucose recovery on placebo, propranolol and propranolol combined with the infusion.
3. The blood glucose recovery rate after hypoglycaemia was less on propranolol than with placebo but was significantly improved and not different from placebo when propranolol treatment was combined with lactate and glycerol infusions. Thus, at least for type I diabetic patients, in whom gluconeogenesis is proportionally greater than in healthy subjects, non-selective β-adrenoceptor blockade attenuates the glucose recovery rate from hypoglycaemia mainly by reducing the availability of gluconeogenic substrates.