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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2005 Aug;90(8):4446-51. Epub 2005 May 24.

High prevalence of glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency without gene mutation suggests a novel genetic mechanism predisposing to ketosis-prone diabetes.

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  • 1Department of Endocrinology and Diabetes, St. Louis Hospital, University of Paris VII School of Medicine, France.



Ketosis-prone diabetes (KPD) is mostly observed in males of West African descent and is characterized by phasic or permanent insulin dependence without apparent autoimmune process.


KPD subjects display a propensity to hyperglycemia-induced acute insulin deficiency, suggesting that they exhibit a propensity to oxidative stress in beta-cells. The enzyme glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) is a defense mechanism against oxidative stress, and G6PD deficiency, an X-linked genetic disorder with male predominance, is frequent in West Africans. We hypothesized that mutations in the G6PD gene could predispose to KPD.


We studied G6PD erythrocyte enzyme activity and the insulin secretory reserve (glucagon-stimulated C peptide) in a cohort of hospitalized West Africans with KPD (n = 59) or type 2 diabetes (T2DM; n = 59) and in normoglycemic controls (n = 55). We also studied the G6PD gene in an extended population of KPD patients (n = 100), T2DM patients (n = 59), and controls (n = 85).


The prevalence of G6PD deficiency was higher in KPD than in T2DM and controls (42.3%; 16.9%; 16.4%; P = 0.01). In KPD, but not in T2DM, insulin deficiency was proportional to the decreased G6PD activity (r = 0.33; P = 0.04). We found no increase in the prevalence of G6PD gene mutations in KPD compared with T2DM and controls. Rather, we found a 20.3% prevalence of G6PD deficiency in KPD without gene mutation.


This study suggests that 1) G6PD deficiency alone is not causative of KPD; and 2) alterations in genes controlling both insulin secretion and G6PD-mediated antioxidant defenses may contribute to the predisposition to KPD in West Africans.

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