Microvascular function relates to insulin sensitivity and blood pressure in normal subjects

Erik H. Serné, Coen D.A. Stehouwer, Jan C. Ter Maaten, Piet M. Ter Wee, Jan A. Rauwerda, Ab J.M. Donker, Reinold O.B. Gans

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Background - A strong but presently unexplained inverse association between blood pressure and insulin sensitivity has been reported. Microvascular vasodilator capacity may be a common antecedent linking insulin sensitivity to blood pressure. To test this hypothesis, we studied 18 normotensive and glucose-tolerant subjects showing a wide range in insulin sensitivity as assessed with the hyperinsulinemic, euglycemic clamp technique. Methods and Results - Blood pressure was measured by 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure monitoring. Videomicroscopy was used to measure skin capillary density and capillary recruitment after arterial occlusion. Skin blood flow responses after iontophoresis of acetylcholine and sodium nitroprusside were evaluated by laser Doppler flowmetry. Insulin sensitivity correlated with 24-hour systolic blood pressure (24-hour SBP; r= -0.50, P < 0.05). Capillary recruitment and acetylcholine-mediated vasodilatation were strongly and positively related to insulin sensitivity (r = 0.84, P < 0.001; r = 0.78, P < 0.001, respectively), and capillary recruitment was inversely related to 24-hour SBP (r = -0.53, P < 0.05). Waist-to-hip ratio showed strong associations with insulin sensitivity, blood pressure, and the measures of microvascular function but did riot confound the associations between these variables. Subsequent regression analysis showed that the association between insulin sensitivity and blood pressure was not independent of the estimates of microvascular function, and part of the variation in both blood pressure (R2 = 38%) and insulin sensitivity (R2 = 71%) could be explained by microvascular function. Conclusions - Insulin sensitivity and blood pressure are associated well within the physiological range. Microvascular function strongly relates to both, consistent with a central role in linking these variables.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)896-902
Number of pages7
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 23 Feb 1999


  • Capillaries
  • Endothelium
  • Hypertension
  • Insulin
  • Microcirculation

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