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J Cyst Fibros. 2004 Dec;3(4):209-22. Epub 2004 Oct 27.

Clinical importance of cystic fibrosis-related diabetes.

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  • 1Physiological Medicine, St. George's Hospital Medical School, London, SW17 ORE, UK.


The prevalence of cystic fibrosis-related diabetes (CFRD) and glucose intolerance (IGT) has risen dramatically over the past 20 years as survival has increased for people with cystic fibrosis (CF). Diabetes is primarily caused by pancreatic damage, which reduces insulin secretion, but glucose tolerance is also modified by factors that alter insulin resistance, such as intercurrent illness and infection. CFRD not only causes the symptoms and micro and macrovascular complications seen in type 1 and type 2 diabetes in the general population, but also is associated with accelerated pulmonary decline and increased mortality. Pulmonary effects are seen some years before the diagnosis of CFRD, implying that impaired glucose tolerance may be detrimental. Current practice is to screen for changes in glucose tolerance by regular measurement of fasting blood glucose, by oral glucose tolerance test or a combination of these approaches with symptom review and measurement of HbA1C. Treatment is clearly indicated for those with CFRD and fasting hyperglycaemia to control symptoms and reduce complications. As nutrition is critical in people with CF to maintain body mass and lung function, blood glucose should be controlled in CFRD by adjusting insulin doses to the requirements of adequate food intake and not by calorie restriction. It is less clear whether blood glucose control will have clinical benefits in the management of patients with CFRD without fasting hyperglycaemia or with impaired glucose tolerance and further studies are required to establish the best treatment for this patient group.

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