Brain Sensitivity to Insulin May be Modulated by Menstrual Cycle in Women

Brain Sensitivity to Insulin May be Modulated by Menstrual Cycle in Women

A study conducted by diabetes specialists from Eberhard Karls University Tübingen and Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf in Germany has revealed that brain sensitivity to insulin may be influenced by the menstrual cycle in women. Previous research has indicated that the presence of insulin in the brain can lead to changes in eating behavior, metabolism, and fat storage. However, most of this research has focused on men, leaving the impact of insulin on women’s brains poorly understood.

In order to investigate this further, the researchers conducted a clinical trial involving 11 female volunteers. The participants underwent hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamps, a procedure used to measure insulin sensitivity. Some of the women were also administered intranasal insulin doses, while others received a placebo. The results showed that the brain was more sensitive to insulin during the first day of ovulation, but not during the days after ovulation.

In addition to this, MRI scans were performed on 15 female volunteers to assess the impact of insulin on the hypothalamus during menstrual cycles. The results confirmed the previous findings, showing increased hypothalamus sensitivity to insulin just before the onset of ovulation.

The researchers suggest that these findings could explain why many women experience increased hunger, slowed metabolism, and weight gain before their period. It is proposed that the female body may be preparing to store energy in case of pregnancy.

This study provides new insights into how the menstrual cycle affects brain sensitivity to insulin in women. Further research is needed to fully understand the underlying mechanisms and potential implications for women’s health.


– Original article: “Hypothalamic response to insulin spray in both phases of the menstrual cycle” – Nature Metabolism, DOI: 10.1038/s42255-023-00869-w

– News & Views article by Nils Kroemer – Nature Metabolism

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