Brain Lactate Concentration Falls in Response to Hypoglycemia in Patients With Type 1 Diabetes and Impaired Awareness of Hypoglycemia

Diabetes. 2016 Jun;65(6):1601-5. doi: 10.2337/db16-0068. Epub 2016 Mar 18.


Brain lactate may be involved in the development of impaired awareness of hypoglycemia (IAH), a condition that affects approximately 25% of patients with type 1 diabetes and increases the risk of severe hypoglycemia. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of acute hypoglycemia on brain lactate concentration in patients with IAH as compared with those with normal awareness of hypoglycemia (NAH) and healthy control subjects (n = 7 per group). After an overnight fast, all subjects underwent a two-step hyperinsulinemic euglycemic (5.0 mmol/L)-hypoglycemic (2.8 mmol/L) glucose clamp. Brain lactate concentrations were measured continuously with (1)H-MRS using a specific lactate detection method. Hypoglycemia generated symptoms in patients with NAH and healthy control subjects but not in patients with IAH. Brain lactate fell significantly by ∼20% in response to hypoglycemia in patients with type 1 diabetes with IAH but remained stable in both healthy control subjects and in patients with NAH. The fall in brain lactate is compatible with increased brain lactate oxidation providing an alternative fuel source during hypoglycemia, which may contribute to the impaired detection of hypoglycemia.

Trial registration: NCT02146404.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Awareness / physiology*
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / complications
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / metabolism*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / psychology
  • Female
  • Glucose Clamp Technique
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemia / etiology
  • Hypoglycemia / metabolism*
  • Hypoglycemia / psychology
  • Insulin / blood
  • Lactic Acid / metabolism*
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Male
  • Young Adult


  • Insulin
  • Lactic Acid

Associated data