Hyperinsulinaemic hypoglycaemia in children and adults

Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol. 2017 Sep;5(9):729-742. doi: 10.1016/S2213-8587(16)30323-0. Epub 2016 Dec 1.


Pancreatic β cells are functionally programmed to release insulin in response to changes in plasma glucose concentration. Insulin secretion is precisely regulated so that, under normal physiological conditions, fasting plasma glucose concentrations are kept within a narrow range of 3·5-5·5 mmol/L. In hyperinsulinaemic hypoglycaemia, insulin secretion becomes dysregulated (ie, uncoupled from glucose metabolism) so that insulin secretion persists in the presence of low plasma glucose concentrations. Hyperinsulinaemic hypoglycaemia is the most common cause of severe and persistent hypoglycaemia in neonates and children. At a molecular level, mutations in nine different genes can lead to the dysregulation of insulin secretion and cause this disorder. In adults, hyperinsulinaemic hypoglycaemia accounts for 0·5-5·0% of cases of hypoglycaemia and can be due either to β-cell tumours (insulinomas) or β-cell hyperplasia. Rapid diagnosis and prompt management of hyperinsulinaemic hypoglycaemia is essential to avoid hypoglycaemic brain injury, especially in the vulnerable neonatal and childhood periods. Advances in the field of hyperinsulinaemic hypoglycaemia include use of rapid molecular genetic testing for the disease, application of novel imaging techniques (6-[fluoride-18]fluoro-levodopa [18F-DOPA] PET-CT and glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) receptor imaging), and development of novel medical treatments (eg, long-acting octreotide formulations, mTOR inhibitors, and GLP-1 receptor antagonists) and surgical therapies (eg, laparoscopic surgery).

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hyperinsulinism* / diagnosis
  • Hyperinsulinism* / etiology
  • Hyperinsulinism* / therapy
  • Hypoglycemia* / diagnosis
  • Hypoglycemia* / etiology
  • Hypoglycemia* / therapy
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells / metabolism


  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Glucose