Aim and method: Insulin resistance leading, in some cases, to glucose intolerance is an important contributory factor to the cardiovascular morbidity and mortality associated with acromegaly. The aim of this study was to document changes in insulin sensitivity (IS) in a group of seven patients with acromegaly (three male, four female, mean+/-s.d. age 59+/-13 Years) treated initially with a stable dose of depot octreotide (OT; median dose 30 mg four times weekly, range 10-30 mg) for a median of 18 Months (range 16-19 Months) and who were then transferred to treatment with pegvisomant (median dose 15 mg daily, range 10-20 mg) for a median of 8 Months (range 7-9 Months). IS was assessed by homeostatic model assessment (HOMA) using fasting glucose and insulin concentrations and by a short insulin tolerance test (sITT). Body composition was assessed by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry.
Results: Mean+/-s.d. serum IGF-I concentrations during therapy with OT and with pegvisomant were not statistically different (283+/-119 ng/ml on OT vs 191+/-39 ng/ml on pegvisomant (P=0.4)). However, mean+/-s.d. fasting plasma glucose fell from 6.2+/-1.0 mmol/l on OT to 5.2+/-0.6 mmol/l on pegvisomant (P=0.017) and was lower on pegvisomant in all seven patients. In four patients, fasting plasma glucose fell from values diagnostic of diabetes mellitus or impaired fasting glucose on OT to within the normal range on pegvisomant. Mean+/-s.d. peripheral IS (by sITT) increased from 139+/-39 micromol/l per min on OT to 169+/-59 micromol/l per min on pegvisomant (P=0.037). Mean+/-s.d. IS (by HOMA %S) was unchanged over the course of the study (149.1+/-43.7% on OT vs 139.9+/-76.6% on pegvisomant, P=0.28). Mean+/-s.d. pancreatic beta-cell secretory function (HOMA %B) improved significantly on pegvisomant compared with OT (49.4+/-19.2% vs 82.4+/-43.5%, P=0.01). No statistically significant change in total fat (P=0.3), % fat (P=0.28) or circulating non-esterified fatty acids (P=0.35) was observed.
Conclusions: IS and glucose tolerance improved in patients converted from OT therapy to pegvisomant, without a change in body composition and even when serum IGF-I concentrations remained equally well controlled. This may be an important factor in the choice of medical therapy for patients with acromegaly.