Multiple defects in counterregulation of hypoglycemia in modestly advanced type 2 diabetes mellitus

Metabolism. 2006 May;55(5):593-8. doi: 10.1016/j.metabol.2005.11.013.


In type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), little is known about hormonal responses to hypoglycemia. In particular, beta-cell responses to hypoglycemia have not been carefully investigated and potentially because of confounding factors or insufficient power, conflicting data have been obtained regarding growth hormone responses. We therefore compared hormonal responses including rates of insulin secretion during a 2-hour hyperinsulinemic hypoglycemic clamp in a relatively large number of nondiabetic (n=21) and moderately insulin-deficient subjects with T2DM (homeostasis model assessment of beta-cell function [HOMA-%B], 751+/-160 vs 1144+/-83 [pmol/L]/[mmol/L], P<.04) (n=14) matched for age, sex, and body mass index. Subjects with T2DM were excluded for antecedent hypoglycemia, and baseline glycemia was controlled by a variable infusion of insulin overnight. Although both groups of subjects had indistinguishable plasma glucose levels at baseline and virtually identical levels of plasma insulin and glucose throughout the hypoglycemic clamp, insulin secretion decreased more slowly in the subjects with T2DM. The time required for insulin secretion to decline to half its baseline level was markedly increased (38.9+/-4.9 vs 22.3+/-1.3 minutes [SD], P<.01), and insulin secretion decreased to a lesser extent (-0.79+/-0.17 vs -1.51+/-0.09 [pmol/L]/kg per minute, P<.002). Moreover, responses of glucagon (28.3+/-7.3 vs 52.8+/-7.0 ng/L, P<.05) and growth hormone (2.9+/-0.8 vs 6.3+/-0.9 ng/mL, P<.04) were reduced in the subjects with T2DM, whereas responses of epinephrine, norepinephrine, and cortisol were similar to those in nondiabetic subjects (all P>0.6). We conclude that multiple defects exist in hormonal responses to hypoglycemia in T2DM with moderate beta-cell failure. These include delayed and reduced decreases in insulin secretion, and impaired increases of plasma glucagon and growth hormone.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • C-Reactive Protein / metabolism
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / metabolism*
  • Epinephrine / blood
  • Epinephrine / metabolism
  • Fatty Acids, Nonesterified / blood
  • Fatty Acids, Nonesterified / metabolism
  • Female
  • Glucagon / blood
  • Glucagon / metabolism
  • Human Growth Hormone / blood
  • Human Growth Hormone / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / blood
  • Hydrocortisone / metabolism
  • Hypoglycemia / metabolism*
  • Insulin / blood
  • Insulin / metabolism*
  • Insulin Secretion
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Norepinephrine / blood
  • Norepinephrine / metabolism
  • Regression Analysis


  • Fatty Acids, Nonesterified
  • Insulin
  • Human Growth Hormone
  • C-Reactive Protein
  • Glucagon
  • Hydrocortisone
  • Norepinephrine
  • Epinephrine