Mechanisms of Disease: advances in diagnosis and treatment of hyperinsulinism in neonates

Nat Clin Pract Endocrinol Metab. 2007 Jan;3(1):57-68. doi: 10.1038/ncpendmet0368.


Hyperinsulinism is the single most common mechanism of hypoglycemia in neonates. Dysregulated insulin secretion is responsible for the transient and prolonged forms of neonatal hypoglycemia, and congenital genetic disorders of insulin regulation represent the most common of the permanent disorders of hypoglycemia. Mutations in at least five genes have been associated with congenital hyperinsulinism: they encode glucokinase, glutamate dehydrogenase, the mitochondrial enzyme short-chain 3-hydroxyacyl-CoA dehydrogenase, and the two components (sulfonylurea receptor 1 and potassium inward rectifying channel, subfamily J, member 11) of the ATP-sensitive potassium channels (K(ATP) channels). K(ATP) hyperinsulinism is the most common and severe form of congenital hyperinsulinism. Infants suffering from K(ATP) hyperinsulinism present shortly after birth with severe and persistent hypoglycemia, and the majority are unresponsive to medical therapy, thus requiring pancreatectomy. In up to 40-60% of the children with K(ATP) hyperinsulinism, the defect is limited to a focal lesion in the pancreas. In these children, local resection results in cure with avoidance of the complications inherent to a near-total pancreatectomy. Hyperinsulinism can also be part of other disorders such as Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome and congenital disorders of glycosylation. The diagnosis and management of children with congenital hyperinsulinism requires a multidisciplinary approach to achieve the goal of therapy: prevention of permanent brain damage due to recurrent hypoglycemia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Butyryl-CoA Dehydrogenase / genetics
  • Congenital Hyperinsulinism / classification
  • Congenital Hyperinsulinism / diagnosis*
  • Congenital Hyperinsulinism / etiology
  • Congenital Hyperinsulinism / genetics
  • Congenital Hyperinsulinism / therapy*
  • Glucokinase / genetics
  • Glutamate Dehydrogenase / genetics
  • Glycosylation
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Models, Biological
  • Potassium Channels / genetics
  • Prognosis
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Potassium Channels
  • Butyryl-CoA Dehydrogenase
  • Glutamate Dehydrogenase
  • Glucokinase