Glucose intolerance in cystic fibrosis patients

Paediatr Respir Rev. 2001 Sep;2(3):253-9. doi: 10.1053/prrv.2001.0148.


Diabetes mellitus has evolved as a complication because of increased longevity of patients with cystic fibrosis (CF). CF-related diabetes (CFRD) is associated with increased morbidity and mortality, therefore, prompt diagnosis and aggressive management are important. The prevalence of CFRD increases with age with an age-dependent incidence rate of 5% per year; at 30 years 50% of patients are diabetic. CFRD develops insidiously. Screening by measurements of fasting, random plasma glucose or glycated haemoglobin A(1c), alone or in combination, do not reliably identify CFRD as compared with the 2-hour plasma glucose value measured during an oral glucose tolerance test. Reasons for the development of CFRD are not fully understood. Generally, patients are characterised by the presence of a class I, II or III CF mutation, exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, impaired and delayed insulin secretion, impaired glucagon secretion, normal insulin sensitivity and an increased insulin clearance rate. One can speculate that for endocrine dysfunction to deteriorate from normal to impaired glucose tolerance and then to CFRD, there must be an additional diabetes mellitus-related genetic defect.CFRD leads to deterioration of overall clinical CF status but insulin therapy can revert this. Late diabetic complications may develop as in other types of diabetes although macrovascular complications are rare. CFRD patients have an increased mortality compared to non-diabetic CF patients. Insulin therapy is the preferred treatment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Cystic Fibrosis / complications*
  • Cystic Fibrosis / diet therapy
  • Diabetes Mellitus / diagnosis
  • Diabetes Mellitus / drug therapy
  • Diabetes Mellitus / etiology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / physiopathology
  • Glucose Intolerance / etiology
  • Glucose Intolerance / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Insulin / therapeutic use


  • Insulin