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Stroke. 2004 Aug;35(8):1886-91. Epub 2004 Jun 10.

Insular cortical ischemia is independently associated with acute stress hyperglycemia.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, Royal Melbourne Hospital, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia.



Acute poststroke hyperglycemia has been associated with larger infarct volumes and a cortical location, regardless of diabetes status. Stress hyperglycemia has been attributed to activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis but never a specific cortical location. We tested the hypothesis that damage to the insular cortex, a site with autonomic connectivity, results in hyperglycemia reflecting sympathoadrenal dysregulation.


Diffusion-weighted MRI, glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c), and blood glucose measurements were obtained in 31 patients within 24 hours of ischemic stroke onset. Acute diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) lesion volumes were measured, and involvement of the insular cortex was assessed on T2-weighted images.


Median admission glucose was significantly higher in patients with insular cortical ischemia (8.6 mmol/L; n=14) compared with those without (6.5 mmol/L; n=17; P=0.006). Multivariate linear regression demonstrated that insular cortical ischemia was a significant independent predictor of glucose level (P=0.001), as was pre-existing diabetes mellitus (P=0.008). After controlling for the effect of insular cortical ischemia, DWI lesion volume was not associated with higher glucose levels (P=0.849). There was no association between HbA1c and glucose level (P=0.737).


Despite the small sample size, insular cortical ischemia appeared to be associated with the production of poststroke hyperglycemia. This relationship is independent of pre-existing glycemic status and infarct volume. Neuroendocrine dysregulation after insular ischemia may be 1 aspect of a more generalized acute stress response. Future studies of poststroke hyperglycemia should account for the effect of insular cortical ischemia.

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