Context: Ketosis-prone diabetes (KPD) is mostly observed in males of West African descent and is characterized by phasic or permanent insulin dependence without apparent autoimmune process.
Objective: KPD subjects display a propensity to hyperglycemia-induced acute insulin deficiency, suggesting that they exhibit a propensity to oxidative stress in beta-cells. The enzyme glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) is a defense mechanism against oxidative stress, and G6PD deficiency, an X-linked genetic disorder with male predominance, is frequent in West Africans. We hypothesized that mutations in the G6PD gene could predispose to KPD.
Design: We studied G6PD erythrocyte enzyme activity and the insulin secretory reserve (glucagon-stimulated C peptide) in a cohort of hospitalized West Africans with KPD (n = 59) or type 2 diabetes (T2DM; n = 59) and in normoglycemic controls (n = 55). We also studied the G6PD gene in an extended population of KPD patients (n = 100), T2DM patients (n = 59), and controls (n = 85).
Results: The prevalence of G6PD deficiency was higher in KPD than in T2DM and controls (42.3%; 16.9%; 16.4%; P = 0.01). In KPD, but not in T2DM, insulin deficiency was proportional to the decreased G6PD activity (r = 0.33; P = 0.04). We found no increase in the prevalence of G6PD gene mutations in KPD compared with T2DM and controls. Rather, we found a 20.3% prevalence of G6PD deficiency in KPD without gene mutation.
Conclusions: This study suggests that 1) G6PD deficiency alone is not causative of KPD; and 2) alterations in genes controlling both insulin secretion and G6PD-mediated antioxidant defenses may contribute to the predisposition to KPD in West Africans.