Relationship between insulin sensitivity, insulin secretion and glucose tolerance in cirrhosis

Hepatology. 1991 Jul;14(1):103-11. doi: 10.1002/hep.1840140117.


Hepatic insulin extraction is difficult to measure in humans; as a result, the interrelationship between defective insulin secretion and insulin insensitivity in the pathogenesis of glucose intolerance in cirrhosis remains unclear. To reassess this we used recombinant human C-peptide to measure C-peptide clearance in cirrhotic patients and controls and thus derive C-peptide and insulin secretion rates after a 75-gm oral glucose load and during a 10 mmol/L hyperglycemic clamp. Cirrhotic patients were confirmed as insulin-insensitive during a euglycemic clamp (glucose requirement: 4.1 +/- 0.1 mg/kg/min vs. 8.1 +/- 0.5 mg/kg/min; p less than 0.001), which also demonstrated a low insulin metabolic clearance rate (p less than 0.001). Although intolerant after oral glucose, the cirrhotic patients had glucose requirements identical to those of controls during the hyperglycemic clamp (cirrhotic patients: 6.1 +/- 1.0 mg/kg/min; controls: 6.3 +/- 0.7 mg/kg/min), suggesting normal intravenous glucose tolerance. C-peptide MCR was identical in cirrhotic patients (2.93 +/- 0.16 ml/min/kg) and controls (2.96 +/- 0.24 ml/min/kg). Insulin secretion was higher in cirrhotic patients, both fasting (2.13 +/- 0.26 U/hr vs. 1.09 +/- 0.10 U/hr; p less than 0.001) and from min 30 to 90 of the hyperglycemic clamp (5.22 +/- 0.70 U/hr vs. 2.85 +/- 0.22 U/hr; p less than 0.001). However, with oral glucose the rise in serum C-peptide concentration was relatively delayed, and the insulin secretion index (secretion/area under 3-hr glucose curve) was not elevated. Hepatic insulin extraction was reduced both in fasting and during the hyperglycemic clamp (p less than 0.001).(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Blood Glucose / analysis
  • C-Peptide / metabolism
  • Glucose / pharmacology*
  • Glucose Clamp Technique
  • Glucose Tolerance Test
  • Humans
  • Insulin / metabolism*
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Insulin Secretion
  • Liver Cirrhosis / metabolism*
  • Metabolic Clearance Rate


  • Blood Glucose
  • C-Peptide
  • Insulin
  • Glucose