Aims/hypothesis: Post-bariatric hypoglycaemia is an increasingly recognised complication of bariatric surgery, manifesting particularly after Roux-en-Y gastric bypass. While hyperinsulinaemia is an established pathophysiological feature, the role of counter-regulation remains unclear. We aimed to assess counter-regulatory hormones and glucose fluxes during insulin-induced postprandial hypoglycaemia in patients with post-bariatric hypoglycaemia after Roux-en-Y gastric bypass vs surgical and non-surgical control individuals.
Methods: In this case-control study, 32 adults belonging to four groups with comparable age, sex and BMI (patients with post-bariatric hypoglycaemia, Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, sleeve gastrectomy and non-surgical control individuals) underwent a postprandial hypoglycaemic clamp in our clinical research unit to reach the glycaemic target of 2.5 mmol/l 150-170 min after ingesting 15 g of glucose. Glucose fluxes were assessed during the postprandial and hypoglycaemic period using a dual-tracer approach. The primary outcome was the incremental AUC of glucagon during hypoglycaemia. Catecholamines, cortisol, growth hormone, pancreatic polypeptide and endogenous glucose production were also analysed during hypoglycaemia.
Results: The rate of glucose appearance after oral administration, as well as the rates of total glucose appearance and glucose disappearance, were higher in both Roux-en-Y gastric bypass groups vs the non-surgical control group in the early postprandial period (all p<0.05). During hypoglycaemia, glucagon exposure was significantly lower in all surgical groups vs the non-surgical control group (all p<0.01). Pancreatic polypeptide levels were significantly lower in patients with post-bariatric hypoglycaemia vs the non-surgical control group (median [IQR]: 24.7 [10.9, 38.7] pmol/l vs 238.7 [186.3, 288.9] pmol/l) (p=0.005). Other hormonal responses to hypoglycaemia and endogenous glucose production did not significantly differ between the groups.
Conclusions/interpretation: The glucagon response to insulin-induced postprandial hypoglycaemia is lower in post-bariatric surgery individuals compared with non-surgical control individuals, irrespective of the surgical modality. No significant differences were found between patients with post-bariatric hypoglycaemia and surgical control individuals, suggesting that impaired counter-regulation is not a root cause of post-bariatric hypoglycaemia.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT04334161.
Keywords: Gastric bypass; Glucagon; Glucose metabolism; Sleeve gastrectomy; Weight.
© 2023. The Author(s).