Insulin resistance plays a larger role in the type 1 diabetes disease process than is commonly recognized. The onset of type 1 diabetes is often heralded by an antecedent illness and/or the onset of puberty, both conditions associated with insulin resistance. In the face of a damaged beta-cell and thus reduced insulin secretion, this change is enough to manifest hyperglycemia. During the first year of clinical disease, considerable evidence suggests that the occurrence of clinical remission or 'honeymoon period' is due to a temporary resolution of the insulin-resistant state present at diagnosis. Intensive diabetes management is associated with both improved insulin sensitivity and beta-cell function. This indicates that the historical data on the changes in insulin secretion post-diagnosis may be inappropriate when designing current studies. The known physiological relationship between beta-cell function and insulin sensitivity complicates interpretation of insulin secretion data obtained as part of prevention or intervention trials. While it is recommended that at least a subset of subjects participating in these trials undergo formal measurements of insulin sensitivity to evaluate effects of therapy on this parameter independent of effects on the beta-cell, the sample size must be sufficient to determine an effect if present. Finally, one could speculate that it is possible that subsets of people with mild manifestations of the type 1 autoimmune disease process could benefit from treatments aimed at improving the insulin-resistant state.
Copyright 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.