Aims/hypothesis: We examined whether type of diabetes and/or insulin treatment can modulate the impact of sustained hyperglycaemia and glycaemic variability as activators of oxidative stress.
Methods: This was an observational study in 139 patients with diabetes, 48 with type 1, 60 with type 2 treated by oral hypoglycaemic agents (OHAs) alone and 31 with type 2 treated with insulin plus OHAs. In addition, two groups of ten patients with type 2 diabetes were investigated either before and after introducing insulin treatment (add-on insulin group) or before and after add-on OHA therapy to metformin (add-on OHA group). Oxidative stress was estimated from 24 h urinary excretion rates of 8-isoprostaglandin F2alpha (8-iso-PGF2alpha). HbA(1c) was assessed and mean amplitude of glycaemic excursions (MAGE) was estimated by continuous monitoring.
Results: The 24 h excretion rate of 8-iso-PGF2alpha (median [range] picomoles per millimole of creatinine) was much higher (p < 0.0001) in type 2 diabetes patients treated with OHAs alone (112 [26-329]) than in the type 1 diabetes group (65 [29-193]) and the type 2 diabetes group treated with insulin (69 [30-198]). It was associated with HbA(1c) (F = 12.9, p = 0.0008) and MAGE (F = 7.7, p = 0.008) in non-insulin-treated, but not in insulin-treated patients. A significant reduction in 24 h excretion rate of 8-iso-PGF2alpha from 126 (47-248) to 62 (35-111] pmol/mmol of creatinine was observed in the add-on insulin group (p = 0.005) but not in the add-on OHA group.
Conclusions/interpretation: In type 1 and type 2 diabetes, insulin exerts an inhibitory effect on oxidative stress, a metabolic disorder that is significantly activated by sustained hyperglycaemia and glucose variability in non-insulin-treated type 2 diabetes.