Background: Obesity is often associated with hyper-secrection of insulin. Impaired fasting glucose (IFG) has recently been redefined as a fasting plasma glucose of 5.6-6.9 mmol/L. The aim of this study was to determine whether changes in insulin secretion in morbidly obese persons also commence with normal serum glucose levels.
Methods: 32 morbidly obese subjects were studied before and after bariatric surgery. Measurements were made of glucose tolerance (K(G)), insulin sensitivity (SI), first-phase insulin release and the disposition index (DI) from a frequently sampled intravenous glucose tolerance test.
Result: In morbidly obese subjects, the SI (P<0.01), DI (P<0.01) and first-phase insulin release (P<0.02) started changing with serum glucose levels considered to be normal (5.00-5.28 mmol/L). K(G) showed a clear slope according to the baseline glycemia status (P<0.05), and it was significantly related with the DI, both before (r=0.76, P<0.001) and after (r=0.57, P=0.002) surgery. Following surgery, all the variables significantly associated with insulin secretion and insulin sensitivity recovered significantly. The most significant changes occurred in morbidly obese individuals with IFG.
Conclusions: Morbidly obese subjects show slopes of insulin sensitivity and insulin secretion in accordance with their baseline serum glucose levels. The fall in first-phase insulin release begins when serum glucose values are considered normal. Morbidly obese persons with the IFG phenotype have a specific pattern of insulin sensitivity and insulin secretion. K(G) clearly discriminates the clinical phenotypes, depending on baseline serum glucose levels.