Background: The prevalence of diabetes is high after transplantation. We hypothesized that liver transplantation induces additional alterations of glucose homeostasis because of liver denervation.
Methods: Nondiabetic patients with a heart (n=9) or liver (n=9) transplant and healthy subjects (n=8) were assessed using a two-step hyperglycemic clamp (7.5 and 10 mmol/L). Thereafter, an oral glucose load (0.65 g/kg fat free mass) was administered while glucose was clamped at 10 mmol/L. Glucose appearance from the gut was calculated as the difference between glucose appearance (6,6 2H2 glucose) and exogenous glucose infusion. Plasma insulin, glucagon-like peptide (GLP)-1 and gastric inhibitory polypeptide(GIP) concentrations were compared after intravenous and oral glucose.
Results: After oral glucose, the glucose appearance from the gut was increased 52% and 81% in liver- and heart-transplant recipients (P<0.05). First-pass splanchnic glucose uptake was reduced by 39% in liver-transplant and 64% in heart-transplant patients (P<0.05). After oral but not intravenous glucose, there was an impairment of insulin secretion in both transplant groups relative to the controls. Plasma concentrations of GIP and GLP-1 increased similarly in all three groups after oral glucose.
Conclusions: First-pass hepatic glucose extraction is decreased after heart and liver transplant. Insulin secretion elicited by oral, but not intravenous glucose, is significantly reduced in both groups of patients. There was no difference between liver- and heart-transplant recipients, indicating that hepatic denervation was not involved. These data suggest an impairment in the beta-cell response to neural factors or incretin hormones secondary to immunosuppressive treatment.