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Sulphonylurea therapy doubles B-cell response to glucose in Type 2 diabetic patients

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The effect of sulphonylurea therapy for 3 weeks on glucose-stimulated insulin secretion and insulin resistance was studied in Type 2 diabetic patients. The fasting plasma insulin and C-peptide concentrations on diet alone were compared with each subject's fasting concentrations on sulphonylurea treatment at a lower fasting plasma glucose and at the original diet-alone glycaemic level obtained by the hyperglycaemic clamp technique. At this isoglycaemic level (mean 11 mmol/l), plasma insulin levels increased from 6.9 mU/l on diet alone to 12.1 mU/l on sulphonylurea treatment (p<0.01). The subjects were also studied by the hyperglycaemic clamp technique at mean glycaemic levels of 13 mmol/l before and after sulphonylurea treatment; the incremental insulin response was similarly enhanced from 7.6±3.5 to 13.7±6.9 mU/l (p<0.02) respectively. Sulphonylureas appear to reduce glycaemia by enhancing B-cell function two-fold. In the patients studied this was from approximately 21% to 37% of a normal response. Insulin resistance assessed by the same hyperglycaemic clamps as endogenous plasma insulin concentrations divided by glucose infusion rates was unchanged by sulphonylurea therapy (mean 4.37 compared to 4.40 mU. 1−1·mg−1·kg·min on diet alone).


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Hosker, J.P., Burnett, M.A., Davies, E.G. et al. Sulphonylurea therapy doubles B-cell response to glucose in Type 2 diabetic patients. Diabetologia 28, 809–814 (1985). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00291069

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Key words

  • Sulphonylureas
  • insulin
  • C-peptide
  • insulin resistance
  • hyperglycaemic clamp