To evaluate the role of adrenaline in regulating carbohydrate metabolism during moderate exercise, 10 moderately trained men completed two 20 min exercise bouts at 58 ± 2 % peak pulmonary oxygen uptake (V̇O2,peak). On one occasion saline was infused (CON), and on the other adrenaline was infused intravenously for 5 min prior to and throughout exercise (ADR). Glucose kinetics were measured by a primed, continuous infusion of 6,6‐[2H]glucose and muscle samples were obtained prior to and at 1 and 20 min of exercise.
The infusion of adrenaline elevated (P < 0.01) plasma adrenaline concentrations at rest (pre‐infusion, 0.28 ± 0.09; post‐infusion, 1.70 ± 0.45 nmol l−1; means ±s.e.m .) and this effect was maintained throughout exercise. Total carbohydrate oxidation increased by 18 % and this effect was due to greater skeletal muscle glycogenolysis (P < 0.05) and pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDH) activation (P < 0.05, treatment effect). Glucose rate of appearance was not different between trials, but the infusion of adrenaline decreased (P < 0.05, treatment effect) skeletal muscle glucose uptake in ADR.
During exercise muscle glucose 6‐phosphate (G‐6‐P) (P = 0.055, treatment effect) and lactate (P < 0.05) were elevated in ADR compared with CON and no changes were observed for pyruvate, creatine, phosphocreatine, ATP and the calculated free concentrations of ADP and AMP.
The data demonstrate that elevated plasma adrenaline levels during moderate exercise in untrained men increase skeletal muscle glycogen breakdown and PDH activation, which results in greater carbohydrate oxidation. The greater muscle glycogenolysis appears to be due to increased glycogen phosphorylase transformation whilst the increased PDH activity cannot be readily explained. Finally, the decreased glucose uptake observed during exercise in ADR is likely to be due to the increased intracellular G‐6‐P and a subsequent decrease in glucose phosphorylation.