Plasma insulin disturbances in primary hyperparathyroidism

J Clin Invest. 1971 Dec;50(12):2596-605. doi: 10.1172/JCI106760.


Plasma insulin dynamics were evaluated in 10 patients with primary hyperparathyroidism before and after parathyroidectomy and correction of hypercalcemia. Before surgery fasting plasma insulin concentrations and insulin responses to administered glucose, tolbutamide, and glucagon were significantly greater than postoperative values. Hyperinsulinemia was not associated with altered glucose curves during glucose or glucagon tolerance tests, but a relatively greater insulin response to tolbutamide resulted in an increased hypoglycemic effect following its administration. The glucose-lowering action of intravenous insulin was slightly impaired before treatment. Intramuscular injections of parathormone to six normal men for 8 days induced mild hypercalcemia and hypophosphatemia and reproduced augmented plasma insulin responses to oral glucose and intravenous tolbutamide. 4-hr intravenous infusions of calcium to another group of six normal men raised serum calcium concentrations above 11 mg/100 ml. This did not alter glucose or insulin curves during oral glucose tolerance but markedly accentuated insulin responses to tolbutamide and potentiated its hypoglycemic effect. When highly purified parathormone was incubated with isolated pancreatic islets of male rats, glucose-stimulated insulin secretion was unaffected. These findings suggest that chronic hypercalcemia of hyperparathyroidism sustains a form of endogenous insulin resistance that necessitates augmented insulin secretion to maintain plasma glucose homeostasis. This state is insufficient to oppose tolbutamide-induced hypoglycemia because of an additional direct, selective enhancement of hypercalcemia on pancreatic beta cell responsiveness to the sulfonylurea. The possible direct role of parathormone in these events has not been established.

MeSH terms

  • Adenoma / complications
  • Adenoma / surgery
  • Administration, Oral
  • Animals
  • Blood Glucose / analysis
  • Calcium / blood
  • Culture Techniques
  • Fasting
  • Female
  • Glucagon / administration & dosage
  • Glucose / administration & dosage
  • Glucose Tolerance Test
  • Humans
  • Hypercalcemia / etiology
  • Hyperparathyroidism / blood*
  • Hyperparathyroidism / complications
  • Hyperparathyroidism / diagnosis
  • Hyperparathyroidism / etiology
  • Hyperparathyroidism / metabolism
  • Hypophosphatasia / etiology
  • Injections, Intramuscular
  • Injections, Intravenous
  • Insulin / administration & dosage
  • Insulin / analysis
  • Insulin / blood*
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Insulin Secretion
  • Male
  • Pancreas / drug effects
  • Parathyroid Hormone / administration & dosage
  • Parathyroid Hormone / pharmacology
  • Parathyroid Hormone / physiology
  • Parathyroid Neoplasms / complications
  • Parathyroid Neoplasms / surgery
  • Phosphates / blood
  • Rats
  • Time Factors
  • Tolbutamide / administration & dosage


  • Blood Glucose
  • Insulin
  • Parathyroid Hormone
  • Phosphates
  • Glucagon
  • Tolbutamide
  • Glucose
  • Calcium