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Evaluation of β-cell function in diabetic Taiwanese children using a 6-min glucagon test

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This study evaluates the effects of glucagon 30 μg/kg (maximal 1 mg) on β-cell function in children by C-peptide determined before and 6 min after intravenous administration. From 1990 to 2005, 118 Taiwanese children with newly diagnosed diabetes mellitus (98 children with type 1 and 20 children with type 2) and 29 normal Taiwanese children were enrolled in this study. Fasting and 6-min post-glucagon C-peptide levels were analyzed. In the pre-pubertal group, the median fasting serum C-peptide levels were 0.2 and 0.8 nmol/l in type 1 diabetes and normal children, respectively. These levels rose to 0.3 and 1.9 nmol/l after glucagon stimulation. In the pubertal group, the median fasting serum C-peptide levels were 0.3, 1.0 and 0.9 nmol/l in type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes and normal children, respectively. They rose to 0.4, 2.5 and 2.7 nmol/l after glucagon stimulation. Both fasting and post-glucagon C-peptide levels in type 1 diabetes patients were significantly lower than those of normal children and children with type 2 diabetes. The optimal cut-off values to distinguish type 1 diabetes patients from those with type 2 as determined by the receiving operating characteristic curve were 0.7 and 1.1 nmol/l, respectively. The sensitivities of both C-peptide values were 93%. The post-glucagon C-peptide level was more powerful in distinguishing type 1 diabetes from type 2 diabetes with higher specificity (95% vs. 85%). The 6-min glucagon test is valuable in assessing β-cell function in children and can help pediatricians in the differential diagnoses of diabetes mellitus in children.

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Fig. 1
Fig. 2



65-ka glutamic acid decarboxylase


tyrosine phosphatase


insulin auto-antibodies


body mass index


Receiving Operating Characteristic


areas under the ROC curves


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Correspondence to Wen-Yu Tsai.

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Tung, Y., Lee, J., Tsai, W. et al. Evaluation of β-cell function in diabetic Taiwanese children using a 6-min glucagon test. Eur J Pediatr 167, 801–805 (2008).

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  • Glucagon test
  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • β-cell
  • C-peptide