Extreme insulin resistance in ataxia telangiectasia: defect in affinity of insulin receptors

N Engl J Med. 1978 May 25;298(21):1164-71. doi: 10.1056/NEJM197805252982103.


The syndrome of ataxia telangiectasia is associated with glucose intolerance and insulin resistance. We examined the status of insulin receptors on circulating monocytes and on cultured fibroblasts from two siblings with ataxia telangiectasia and severe insulin resistance. 125I-insulin binding to monocytes of the two patients consistently demonstrated an 80 to 85 per cent decrease in receptor affinity. In contrast, the defect in receptor affinity was not expressed on the patients' cultured fibroblasts or on monocytes or fibroblasts obtained from unaffected family members. Whole plasma and immunoglobulin-enriched fractions of plasma from the patients inhibited the normal binding of insulin to its receptors on cultured human lymphocytes (IM -9 line) and on human placental membranes. We conclude that the insulin resistance in the two siblings with ataxia telangiectasia was associated with defects in the affinity of the receptors for insulin, probably caused by circulating inhibitors of insulin binding.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Acanthosis Nigricans / complications
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Ataxia Telangiectasia / complications
  • Ataxia Telangiectasia / genetics
  • Ataxia Telangiectasia / metabolism*
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Female
  • Fibroblasts / metabolism
  • Glucose Tolerance Test
  • Humans
  • Insulin / blood
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Monocytes / metabolism
  • Receptor, Insulin / metabolism*


  • Blood Glucose
  • Insulin
  • Receptor, Insulin