Infection and diabetes: the case for glucose control

Am J Med. 1982 Mar;72(3):439-50. doi: 10.1016/0002-9343(82)90511-3.


This review summarizes data concerning the host resistance to infection in diabetes and the influence of an acute infection upon the endocrinologic-metabolite status of the diabetic patient. While it is well known that acute infections lead to difficulty in controlling blood sugar levels and the infection is the most frequently documented cause of ketoacidosis, controversy persists as to whether or not patients with diabetes mellitus are more susceptible to infection than age- and sex-matched nondiabetic control subjects. Our data obtained from the charts of 241 diabetic patients who were being followed as outpatients show a striking direct correlation between the overall prevalence of infection (p less than 0.001) and the mean plasma glucose levels (representing three or more fasting glucose determinations taken at times when no evidence of infection existed). There is a significant diminution in intracellular bactericidal activity of leukocytes with Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli in subjects with poorly controlled diabetes in comparison with the control group. Serum opsonic activity for both Staph. Aureus and E. coli were significantly lower than in the control subjects. Taken together, the results from published reports as well as our data suggest to us that good control of blood sugar in diabetic patients is a desirable goal in the prevention of certain infections (Candida vaginitis, for example) and to ensure maintenance of normal host defense mechanisms that determine resistance and response to infection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antibody Formation
  • Blood Bactericidal Activity
  • Blood Glucose*
  • Chemotaxis, Leukocyte
  • Diabetes Complications*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / immunology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Cellular
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Infections / complications*
  • Infections / immunology
  • Leukocytes / metabolism
  • Male
  • Neutrophils / immunology
  • Phagocytosis


  • Blood Glucose