Rosiglitazone Improves Insulin Sensitivity and Baroreflex Gain in Rats with Diet-Induced Obesity

… Arterial oxygen levels were continuously monitored via a pulse oximeter (Starr Life
Sciences, Inc, Oakmont, PA), and, if necessary, adjustments were made in tracheal
catheter position to maintain oxygen levels at or above 95%. … Obesity decreases baroreflex gain (BRG); however, the mechanisms are unknown. We tested the hypothesis that impaired BRG is related to the concurrent insulin resistance, and, therefore, BRG would be improved after treatment with the insulin-sensitizing drug rosiglitazone. Male rats fed a high-fat diet diverged into obesity-prone (OP) and obesity-resistant (OR) groups after 2 weeks. Then, OP and OR rats, as well as control (CON) rats fed a standard diet, were treated daily for 2 to 3 weeks with rosiglitazone (3 or 6 mg/kg) or its vehicle by gavage. Compared with OR and CON rats, conscious OP rats exhibited reductions in BRG (OP, 2.9 ± 0.1 bpm/mm Hg; OR, 4.0 ± 0.2 bpm/mm Hg; CON, 3.9 ± 0.2 bpm/mm Hg; P < 0.05) and insulin sensitivity (hyperinsulinemic euglycemic clamp; OP, 6.8 ± 0.9 mg/kg · min; OR, 22.2 ± 1.2 mg/kg · min; CON, 17.7 ± 0.8 mg/kg · min; P < 0.05), which were well correlated (r2 = 0.49; P < 0.01). In OP rats, rosiglitazone dose-dependently improved (P < 0.05) insulin sensitivity (12.8 ± 0.6 mg/kg · min at 3 mg/kg; 16.0 ± 1.5 mg/kg · min at 6 mg/kg) and BRG (3.8 ± 0.4 bpm/mm Hg at 3 mg/kg; 5.3 ± 0.7 bpm/mm Hg at 6 mg/kg). However, 6 mg/kg rosiglitazone also increased BRG in OR rats without increasing insulin sensitivity, disrupted the correlation between BRG and insulin sensitivity (r2 = 0.08), and, in OP and OR rats, elevated BRG relative to insulin sensitivity (analysis of covariance; P < 0.05). Moreover, in OP rats, stimulation of the aortic depressor nerve, to activate central baroreflex pathways, elicited markedly reduced decreases in heart rate and arterial pressure, but these responses were not improved by rosiglitazone. In conclusion, diet-induced obesity impairs BRG via a central mechanism that is related to the concurrent insulin resistance. Rosiglitazone normalizes BRG, but not by improving brain baroreflex processing or insulin sensitivity.