Hyperinsulinism of the newborn

Semin Perinatol. 2000 Apr;24(2):150-63. doi: 10.1053/sp.2000.6365.


Neonatal hyperinsulinism (HI) is a clinical syndrome of pancreatic beta-cell dysfunction characterized by failure to suppress insulin secretion in the presence of hypoglycemia. Although rare, it is the most common cause for persistent hypoglycemia in the newborn period. Treatment can be extremely difficult, and partial pancreatectomy is frequently required to prevent recurrent hypoglycemia and irreversible brain damage. In the last 5 years much has been learned about the pathophysiology of this disease. In most patients, the disease is caused by recessive mutations in either of the 2 functional subunits of the beta-cell KATP channel (SUR1 or Kir6.2). Although in most families, the disease is transmitted as an autosomal recessive trait, a novel form of transmission, resulting in focal involvement of the pancreas has recently been described. Not all patients with HI have mutations in the KATP channel genes. An activating mutation in the "glucose sensor" glucokinase has recently been reported in one family with diazoxide-responsive autosomal dominant hyperinsulinemic hypoglycemia. Also, a new syndrome of hyperinsulinism associated with benign hyperammonemia was recently described and found to be caused by activating mutations in the glutamate dehydrogenase (GDH) gene (GLUD-1). Thus, the clinical syndrome of HI can be caused by mutations in 4 different genes and can be transmitted as either a recessive or a dominant trait. These findings aid in the therapeutic decision-making process and improve the accuracy and precision of genetic counseling. Despite these recent discoveries, however, the metabolic origin of the disease is still unknown in about 50% of cases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Glucokinase / genetics
  • Glutamate Dehydrogenase / genetics
  • Humans
  • Hyperinsulinism* / diagnosis
  • Hyperinsulinism* / genetics
  • Hyperinsulinism* / pathology
  • Hyperinsulinism* / therapy
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Mutation
  • Potassium Channels / genetics


  • Potassium Channels
  • Glutamate Dehydrogenase
  • Glucokinase