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Relationship between glucose tolerance, insulin secretion, and insulin action in non-obese individuals with varying degrees of glucose tolerance

Summary

Plasma glucose and insulin concentration following a 75 g oral glucose challenge and glucose uptake during a hyperinsulinaemic glucose clamp study were determined in 50 non-obese individuals. The study population was divided into five groups on the basis of their glucose tolerance: normal, impaired glucose tolerance, Type 2 (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes mellitus with fasting plasma glucose of less than 8 mmol/l, between 8–15 mmol/l, and more than 15 mmol/l. The plasma insulin response was significantly greater (p<0.001) than normal in those with either impaired glucose tolerance or Type 2 diabetes and a fasting plasma glucose concentration less than 8 mmol/l. In contrast, the plasma insulin response was similar to normal in the other two groups of patients with Type 2 diabetes, i.e. fasting plasma glucose concentration 8–15 mmol/l or greater than 15 mmol/l. Glucose uptake rates were significantly lower (p<0.001) than normal in subjects with impaired glucose tolerance and all three groups of patients with Type 2 diabetes. Although glucose uptake rates during the glucose clamp studies were relatively similar in all four groups of glucose intolerant subjects, the values were significantly lower in those patients with Type 2 diabetes who had a fasting plasma glucose concentration greater than 8 mmol/l (p<0.01), These data indicate that a significant degree of insulin resistance exists in patients with impaired glucose tolerance or Type 2 diabetes, relatively independent of fasting plasma glucose concentration. Indeed, glucose uptake during glucose clamp studies fell 8-fold over a range in fasting plasma glucose concentration of from 4.5 to 6.5 mmol/l. In contrast, the plasma insulin response increased over the same range of fasting plasma glucose concentrations. The fact that this defect in insulin action can be seen in patients who are hyperinsulinaemic, not hypoinsulinaemic, and only modestly hyperglycaemic, is consistent with the hypothesis that resistance to insulin-stimulate glucose uptake is a basic characteristic of patients with impaired glucose tolerance or Type 2 diabetes.

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Reaven, G.M., Hollenbeck, C.B. & Chen, Y.-.I. Relationship between glucose tolerance, insulin secretion, and insulin action in non-obese individuals with varying degrees of glucose tolerance. Diabetologia 32, 52–55 (1989). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00265404

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Key words

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • impaired glucose tolerance
  • insulin resistance
  • insulin response
  • glucose tolerance