BACKGROUND: The hypothalamus plays a key role in central nutrient sensing and glucose homeostasis. Due to its position next to the third ventricle, intracerebroventricular (ICV) injections or osmotic minipumps are widely applied techniques in studying effects of hormones and other molecules on the hypothalamus and glucose metabolism.
NEW METHODS: The intracarotid catheter technique in which a catheter is placed in the carotid artery, pointing towards the brain, provides a physiological route to centrally infuse blood-borne molecules in an undisturbed animal. To measure effects of central interventions on peripheral glucose metabolism, endogenous glucose production (EGP) and insulin sensitivity can be measured using a stable isotope technique. To combine both techniques, it is necessary to combine different catheters. We here describe a novel cannulation technique for the carotid artery, enabling stress-free infusions towards the brain and blood sampling from the carotid artery concomitantly, and infuse a stable isotope via the jugular vein.
RESULTS: We showed accurate EGP measurements when intracarotically infusing saline towards the brain. The stress-hormone corticosterone, as well as energy expenditure, did not alter upon central infusion.
COMPARISON EXISTING METHOD(S): ICV infusions bypass the blood-brain-barrier (BBB) and are thus a less physiological approach when studying central effects of blood-borne factors. Furthermore, ICV injections can elicit a stress response which can interfere with outcomes of glucose metabolism. We described a stress-free, physiological method to study effects of central infusions on peripheral parameters.
CONCLUSIONS: This technique provides new opportunities for studying central effects of, for instance, hormones and nutrients, on glucose metabolism.