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Eur J Endocrinol. 2004 Feb;150(2):97-104.

Importance of quantifying insulin secretion in relation to insulin sensitivity to accurately assess beta cell function in clinical studies.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Lund University, Lund, Sweden.


Insulin sensitivity and insulin secretion are mutually related such that insulin resistance is compensated by increased insulin secretion. A correct judgement of insulin secretion therefore requires validation in relation to the insulin sensitivity in the same subject. Mathematical analyses of the relationship between insulin sensitivity and insulin secretion has revealed a hyperbolic function, such that the product of the two variables is constant. This product is usually called the disposition index. Several techniques may be used for its estimation such as data derived from the frequently sampled i.v. glucose tolerance test, the oral glucose tolerance test or the glucose-dependent arginine stimulation test or the euglycemic hyperinsulinemic clamp technique in combination with a test on insulin secretion. Using these techniques the compensatory increase in beta cell function in insulin resistance has been verified in obesity, in pregnancy and after glucocorticoid administration as has the defective beta cell function as the underlying cause of impaired glucose tolerance and type 2 diabetes. Similarly, combined analysis of insulin sensitivity and insulin secretion has shown a down-regulation of beta cell function in increased insulin sensitivity accompanying weight reduction in obesity and following exercise. Acknowledging this inverse relationship between insulin secretion and insulin sensitivity therefore requires estimation of both variables for correct assessment in any individual.

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