Aims/hypothesis: Insulin resistance is a common feature in relatives of patients with Type II (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes mellitus and abnormalities in beta-cell function can also exist. Insight into non-fasting carbohydrate metabolism in these potentially prediabetic subjects relies almost exclusively on studies in which glucose is infused or ingested or both. We aimed to characterize insulin secretion and aspects of hormonal and metabolic patterns in relatives using a physiological approach.
Methods: We examined profiles of insulin, C peptide, proinsulin, gut incretin hormones and fuel substrates in 26 glucose tolerant but insulin resistant (clamp) relatives and 17 control subjects during a 24-hour period including three meals.
Results: During the day plasma glucose was slightly raised in relatives (p < 0.05). Overall insulin secretion calculated on the basis of C peptide kinetics were increased in relatives (p < 0.0005) whereas incremental insulin secretion after all three meals were similar. Peak incremental insulin secretion tended, however, to be reduced in relatives (p < 0.10). Despite considerably increased insulin concentrations in relatives (70 %, p < 0.001), serum NEFA did not differ. Postprandial proinsulin concentrations (p < 0.05), but not proinsulin:insulin ratios, were increased in relatives. After meals concentrations of glucose-dependent-insulinotropic polypeptide (p < 0.05) were increased in relatives. Glucagon-like peptide-1 concentrations were similar.
Conclusion/interpretation: Several hormonal and metabolic aberrations are present in healthy relatives of Type II diabetic patients during conditions that simulate daily living. Increased concentrations of glucose-dependent-insulinotropic polypeptide could indicate a beta-cell receptor defect for glucose-dependent-insulinotropic polypeptide in the prediabetic stage of Type II diabetes. Incremental insulin secretion after mixed meals appear normal in relatives, although a trend towards diminished peak values possibly signifies early beta-cell dysfunction. [Diabetologia (1999) 42: 1314-1323]