Objective: To examine whether intensive glycemic control could decrease the frequency or severity of diabetic microvascular complications, an 8-year prospective study of Japanese patients with type 2 diabetes was performed.
Research design and methods: A total of 110 patients with type 2 diabetes (55 with no retinopathy [the primary prevention cohort] and 55 with simple retinopathy [the secondary intervention cohort]) were randomly assigned to multiple insulin injection therapy (MIT) groups and administered three or more daily insulin injections or assigned to conventional insulin injection therapy (CIT) groups and administered one or two daily intermediate-acting insulin injections. Worsening of microvascular complications was regularly assessed during 8 years. Two or more steps up in the 19 stages of the modified Early Treatment of Diabetic Retinopathy Study classification in retinopathy and one or more stages up among three stages in nephropathy (normoalbuminuria, microalbuminuria, and albuminuria) were defined as worsening of complications.
Results: In both primary prevention and secondary intervention cohorts, the cumulative percentages of worsening in retinopathy and nephropathy were significantly lower (P < 0.05) in the MIT group than in the CIT group. In neurological tests after 8 years, the MIT group showed significant improvement (P < 0.05) in the median nerve conduction velocities (motor and sensory nerves), whereas the CIT group showed significant deterioration (P < 0.05) in the nerve conduction velocities and vibration threshold. From this study, the glycemic threshold to prevent the onset and progression of diabetic microvascular complications was as follows: HbA1c < 6.5%, fasting blood glucose concentration < 110 mg/dl, and 2-h postprandial blood glucose concentration < 180 mg/dl.
Conclusions: Intensive glycemic control can delay the onset and progression of the early stages of diabetic microvascular complications in Japanese patients with type 2 diabetes.