Shape of the OGTT glucose response curve: relationship with β-cell function and differences by sex, race, and BMI in adults with early type 2 diabetes treated with metformin

BMJ Open Diabetes Res Care. 2021 Sep;9(1):e002264. doi: 10.1136/bmjdrc-2021-002264.


Introduction: The shape of the glucose curve during an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) reflects β-cell function in populations without diabetes but has not been as well studied in those with diabetes. A monophasic shape has been associated with higher risk of diabetes, while a biphasic pattern has been associated with lower risk. We sought to determine if phenotypic or metabolic characteristics were associated with glucose response curve shape in adults with type 2 diabetes treated with metformin alone.

Research design and methods: This is a cross-sectional analysis of 3108 metformin-treated adults with type 2 diabetes diagnosed <10 years who underwent 2-hour 75 g OGTT at baseline as part of the Glycemia Reduction Approaches in Diabetes: A Comparative Effectiveness Study (GRADE). Insulin sensitivity (homeostasis model of insulin sensitivity, HOMA2-S) and β-cell function (early, late, and total incremental insulin and C peptide responses adjusted for HOMA2-S) were calculated. Glucose curve shape was classified as monophasic, biphasic, or continuous rise.

Results: The monophasic profile was the most common (67.8% monophasic, 5.5% biphasic, 26.7% continuous rise). The monophasic subgroup was younger, more likely male and white, and had higher body mass index (BMI), while the continuous rise subgroup was more likely female and African American/black. HOMA2-S and fasting glucose did not differ among the subgroups. The biphasic subgroup had the highest early, late, and total insulin and C peptide responses (all p<0.05 vs monophasic and continuous rise). Compared with the monophasic subgroup, the continuous rise subgroup had similar early insulin (p=0.3) and C peptide (p=0.6) responses but lower late insulin (p<0.001) and total insulin (p=0.008) and C peptide (p<0.001) responses.

Conclusions: Based on the large multiethnic GRADE cohort, sex, race, age, and BMI were found to be important determinants of the shape of the glucose response curve. A pattern of a continuously rising glucose at 2 hours reflected reduced β-cell function and may portend increased glycemic failure rates.

Trial registration number: NCT01794143.

Keywords: OGTT; diabetes mellitus; glucose; insulin; type 2.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2* / drug therapy
  • Female
  • Glucose
  • Glucose Tolerance Test
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Metformin* / therapeutic use


  • Metformin
  • Glucose

Associated data