Effect of pancreas transplantation on glucose counterregulation in insulin-dependent diabetic patients prone to severe hypoglycaemia

J Intern Med. 1991 Dec;230(6):527-33. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2796.1991.tb00484.x.


Pancreatic transplantation was performed in three patients with insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus in whom recurrent and severe episodes of hypoglycaemia had been found to be due to defective glucose counterregulation. Thus in these patients the spontaneous blood glucose recovery after insulin-induced hypoglycaemia (0.1 U kg-1 h-1 i.v. insulin until blood glucose levels fell below 2.8 mmol l-1) was delayed, and the responses of glucagon, epinephrine and growth hormone (GH) were absent or diminished. After pancreas transplantation the patients exhibited essentially normal blood glucose control. When the insulin infusion test was repeated 3 months after the transplantation, the blood glucose level recovered rapidly after insulin withdrawal. The glucagon response was restored, and the responses of epinephrine and GH were improved. Plasma C-peptide was suppressed by approximately 50%, which is less than is observed in normal subjects. It is concluded that glucose counterregulation improves after pancreas transplantation. This appears to be mainly due to an improvement in the hypoglycaemia-induced glucagon response, but an amelioration of sympatho-adrenal and hypothalamic-pituitary regulatory mechanisms may also be involved. The apparent failure to suppress completely the insulin release from the denervated pancreas transplant indicates that inhibition of beta-cell secretion during insulin-induced hypoglycaemia may be partly under neural control.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / blood*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / drug therapy
  • Epinephrine / blood
  • Glucagon / blood
  • Growth Hormone / blood
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemia / chemically induced
  • Hypoglycemia / prevention & control*
  • Insulin / adverse effects
  • Insulin / therapeutic use
  • Male
  • Pancreas Transplantation / physiology*
  • Time Factors


  • Blood Glucose
  • Insulin
  • Growth Hormone
  • Glucagon
  • Epinephrine