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Efficacy and safety of acarbose in patients with cystic fibrosis and impaired glucose tolerance

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Impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) is an increasingly frequent complication of cystic fibrosis (CF). In CF patients, a fast postprandial rise in plasma glucose is typically followed by a delayed but prolonged insulin response. Patients may develop symptoms of both hyper- and hypoglycaemia. The α-glucosidase inhibitor, acarbose, delays the hydrolysis and subsequent absorption of ingested carbohydrates. The aim of this study was to investigate the efficacy of acarbose in CF patients with IGT.

During a 2-week inpatient period for treatment of Pseudomonas infection, 12 CF patients with IGT were studied in a double-blinded, randomized crossover trial. Each patient received acarbose (50 mg t.i.d.) for 5 days and placebo for 5 days (days 3–8 and days 10–14, respectively). Glucose, insulin and C-peptide responses to a standardized nutritional load were measured at baseline and at the end of each study period (Days 2, 8 and 14). Treatment with acarbose was associated with significant reductions in the mean value, mean peak values and the area under the curve of plasma glucose, insulin and C-peptide, compared to respective baseline values and placebo. Gastro-intestinal disturbances were recorded in 67% of patients during therapy with acarbose.

Conclusion Acarbose has a positive therapeutic effect on glucose tolerance in cystic fibrosis patients, as shown by attenuation of postprandial plasma glucose increase and a significant decrease in insulin secretion response. However, acarbose treatment was associated with adverse gastro-intestinal effects that may prevent patients from accepting long-term therapy.

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Received: 1 December 1997 / Accepted in revised form: 15 September 1998

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Kentrup, H., Bongers, H., Spengler, M. et al. Efficacy and safety of acarbose in patients with cystic fibrosis and impaired glucose tolerance. Eur J Pediatr 158, 455–459 (1999). https://doi.org/10.1007/s004310051119

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  • Key words Cystic fibrosis
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Impaired glucose tolerance
  • Acarbose