Reduced beta-cell secretion and insulin hepatic extraction in healthy elderly subjects

J Am Geriatr Soc. 1990 Dec;38(12):1283-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.1990.tb03449.x.


One factor responsible for the altered carbohydrate metabolism in elderly subjects is impaired insulin release; however, difficulties in directly measuring insulin secretion have limited studies on pancreatic activity and on the contribution of the liver to insulin delivery. This study investigated beta-cell performance and insulin hepatic extraction under dynamic conditions in normal elderly subjects. Two strictly comparable groups of 12 young controls (Y, 27 +/- 1 (SE) years, 73 +/- 3 kg) and 12 elderly men (E, 69 +/- 2 years, 73 +/- 3 kg) were chosen on the basis of normal OGTT and normal insulin sensitivity in order to investigate a "pure" age effect. The subjects underwent a 4-hour frequently sampled intravenous glucose tolerance test (FSIGT) (dose 0.3 g/kg). Although no significant differences were found between the fasting levels of glucose and insulin (respectively: E: 89 +/- 3 mg/dL versus Y: 87 +/- 2, P greater than .1; and E: 5.0 +/- 0.5 microU/mL versus Y: 6.8 +/- 1.0, P greater than .05), basal C-peptide was found to be lower in the old subjects: 0.43 +/- 0.06 ng/mL versus 0.70 +/- 0.11 (P less than .025). The patterns of glucose and insulin during the FSIGT were similar, whereas C-peptide concentration in E was systematically lower, suggesting a reduced insulin secretion. To verify this hypothesis, we analyzed FSIGT data with a mathematical model-based method that provides a noninvasive direct measurement of the time courses of insulin secretion and hepatic extraction.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / metabolism*
  • Blood Glucose*
  • C-Peptide / blood
  • Glucose Tolerance Test
  • Humans
  • Insulin / metabolism*
  • Insulin Secretion
  • Islets of Langerhans / metabolism*
  • Liver / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged


  • Blood Glucose
  • C-Peptide
  • Insulin