Upper gastrointestinal motility and symptoms in individuals with diabetes, prediabetes and normal glucose tolerance

Diabetologia. 2015 Jun;58(6):1175-82. doi: 10.1007/s00125-015-3538-3. Epub 2015 Mar 1.


Aims/hypothesis: Type 2 diabetes has been associated with upper gastrointestinal motility dysfunction, but the relationship with diabetes duration and glucose control is less well understood. Gastric emptying, oesophageal motility and gastrointestinal symptoms were examined in volunteers with diabetes, prediabetes (impaired fasting glucose [IFG] or impaired glucose tolerance [IGT]) and normal glucose tolerance (NGT).

Methods: The study included 41 patients with type 2 diabetes, 17 individuals with IFG/IGT and 31 individuals with NGT. A gastric emptying breath test and high-resolution oesophageal manometry were performed. Gastrointestinal symptoms were assessed using questionnaires.

Results: Gastric emptying was delayed in individuals with IFG/IGT (p < 0.05) but was normal in the diabetic group. Amongst the diabetic patients, gastric emptying rate was fastest in those with longer diabetes duration and the highest HbA1c levels (p < 0.001). Oesophageal motility variables were similar between the groups. However, the lower oesophagus resting pressure was reduced in patients with longer diabetes duration (p = 0.01). Abdominal pain/discomfort was more frequent amongst patients with diabetes (p = 0.04) but was unrelated to gastric emptying. Significant associations between various oesophageal motility variables and gastrointestinal symptoms were observed.

Conclusions/interpretation: Gastric emptying and oesophageal motility are not generally altered in patients with type 2 diabetes. In more advanced disease stages, however, gastric emptying and oesophageal motility may be disturbed, probably as a consequence of autonomic neuropathy. Delayed gastric emptying in IFG/IGT individuals might be secondary to acute hyperglycaemia. Determination of gastric emptying and oesophageal manometry should be considered for the diagnostic workup of patients with diabetes and gastrointestinal symptoms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Aged
  • Blood Glucose / analysis*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / drug therapy
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / physiopathology*
  • Esophagus / physiology
  • Female
  • Gastric Emptying*
  • Gastrointestinal Motility*
  • Glucose Tolerance Test*
  • Humans
  • Hyperglycemia / blood
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Male
  • Manometry
  • Middle Aged
  • Postprandial Period
  • Prediabetic State / physiopathology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Blood Glucose
  • Hypoglycemic Agents