Background: Studies have shown that, when implemented early in the course of type 2 diabetes mellitus, treatment with intensive insulin therapy for 2-3 weeks can induce a glycaemic remission, wherein patients are able to maintain normoglycaemia without any anti-diabetic medication. We thus did a systematic review and meta-analysis of interventional studies to assess the effect of short-term intensive insulin therapy on the pathophysiological defects underlying type 2 diabetes mellitus (pancreatic β-cell dysfunction and insulin resistance) and identify clinical predictors of remission.
Methods: We identified studies published between 1950 and Nov 19, 2012, which assessed the effect of intensive insulin therapy on β-cell function or insulin resistance, or both, or assessed long-term drug-free glycaemic remission in adults aged 18 years or older with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes mellitus. We calculated pooled estimates by random-effects model. This study is registered with International Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews, number CRD42012002829.
Findings: We identified 1645 studies of which seven fulfilled inclusion criteria (n=839 participants). Five studies were non-randomised. A pooled analysis of the seven studies showed a post-intensive insulin therapy increase in Homeostasis Model Assessment of β-cell function as compared with baseline (1·13, 95% CI 1·02 to 1·25) and a decrease in Homeostasis Model Assessment of Insulin Resistance (-0·57, -0·84 to -0·29). In the four studies that assessed glycaemic remission (n=559 participants), the proportion of participants in drug-free remission was about 66·2% (292 of 441 patients) after 3 months of follow-up, about 58·9% (222 of 377 patients) after 6 months, about 46·3% (229 of 495 patients) after 12 months, and about 42·1% (53 of 126 patients) after 24 months. Patients who achieved remission had higher body-mass index than those who did not achieve remission (1·06 kg/m(2), 95% CI 0·55 to 1·58) and lower fasting plasma glucose (-0·59 mmol/L, 95% CI -1·11 to -0·07) at baseline.
Interpretation: Short-term intensive insulin therapy can improve the underlying pathophysiology in early type 2 diabetes mellitus, and thus might provide a treatment strategy for modifying the natural history of diabetes.
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