Relationship between diabetes control and pulmonary function in insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus

Am J Med. 1991 Oct;91(4):371-6. doi: 10.1016/0002-9343(91)90154-p.


Purpose: To evaluate the effect of different levels of glycemic control on the pulmonary function of subjects with type I insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus.

Patients and methods: Eighteen subjects with type I insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus with no history or physical findings of respiratory disease. Patients were given insulin therapy with a standard twice-daily insulin injection regimen (standard treatment group) or a subcutaneous insulin infusion device (insulin pump) (intensive treatment group). Glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c) levels were determined at quarterly intervals in both groups of patients (standard treatment group, n = 10; intensive treatment group, n = 8). Pulmonary function and diffusing capacity for carbon monoxide (DLCO) were measured after 6 years of continuous follow-up.

Results: The average HbA1c in the standard treatment group was significantly higher than that of the intensive treatment group throughout the 6 years of follow-up (p less than 0.001). The forced vital capacity of the standard treatment group was 85 +/- 3% of predicted as compared with 106 +/- 4% of predicted in the intensive treatment group (p less than 0.001). The DLCO was also significantly diminished in the standard treatment group as compared with that in the intensive treatment group (65 +/- 2% versus 87 +/- 4% of predicted) (p less than 0.001).

Conclusion: These data confirm previous reports of abnormal respiratory function in subjects with insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus and suggest that long-term near-normoglycemia may be beneficial in preventing the deterioration of pulmonary function associated with diabetes mellitus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Glucose Self-Monitoring
  • Body Mass Index
  • Carbon Monoxide
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / blood*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / drug therapy
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Infusions, Parenteral
  • Injections, Subcutaneous
  • Insulin / administration & dosage
  • Insulin / therapeutic use
  • Lung Volume Measurements*
  • Male
  • Pulmonary Diffusing Capacity*


  • Glycated Hemoglobin A
  • Insulin
  • Carbon Monoxide