Journal of Endocrinological Investigation

, Volume 12, Issue 6, pp 393–399 | Cite as

Insulin resistance in porphyria cutanea tarda

  • F. Calcinaro
  • G. Basta
  • P. Lisi
  • C. Cruciani
  • M. Pietropaolo
  • F. Santeusanio
  • A. FalorniJr.
  • R. Calafiore


It has been reported that patients with porphyria cutanea tarda (PCT) develop carbohydrate (CHO) intolerance and manifest diabetes mellitus (DM) more frequently than the normal population. In order to verify whether this is due to insulin resistance we studied 5 patients with PCT and 5 normal subjects matched for age, sex and weight. In all the patients an evaluation consisted of the glycemic curve and insulin response to an iv glucose tolerance test (IVGTT: 0.33 g/kg) as well as of an evaluation of the circulating monocyte insulin receptors. Blood samples were drawn in the basal state to measure plasma levels of NEFA, glycerol, and intermediate metabolites. The patients with PCT showed normal glucose tolerance which was obtained, however, at the expense of the elevated insulin levels: therefore a condition of insulin resistance was demonstrated in these subjects. An involvement of the lipid metabolism, observed by the raised levels of plasma NEFA and glycerol, was also evident. The insulin binding to circulating monocytes was reduced but not enough to justify the degree of insulin resistance observed. Therefore, it could be hypothesized, in agreement with similar studies, that a postreceptor defect is responsible for the insulin-resistance observed in patients with PCT and that the reduction of insulin receptors is determined by the down regulation in response to elevated insulinemic levels. An alteration of the porphyrin metabolism might be responsible for this disorder.


Insulin resistance porphyria cutanea tarda insulin receptor intermediate metabolites IVGTT 


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Copyright information

© Italian Society of Endocrinology (SIE) 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • F. Calcinaro
    • 1
  • G. Basta
    • 1
  • P. Lisi
    • 2
  • C. Cruciani
    • 1
  • M. Pietropaolo
    • 1
  • F. Santeusanio
    • 1
  • A. FalorniJr.
    • 1
  • R. Calafiore
    • 1
  1. 1.Istituti di Patologia Speciale Medica e di Clinica Dermatologica e Venereologica, Università di PerugiaPerugiaItaly
  2. 2.Clinica Dermatologica e Venereologica, Università di PerugiaPerugiaItaly

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