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Horm Res. 2003;59(2):73-8.

Disproportionately elevated fasting proinsulin levels in normoglycemic patients with thalassemia major are correlated to the degree of iron overload.

Author information

1
Department of Pediatrics, University of Ulm, Germany. holger.cario@medizin.uni-ulm.de

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To analyze the secretion of the insulin precursor proinsulin in patients with beta-thalassemia and its possible relation to iron overload.

METHODS:

We assessed fasting proinsulin, insulin, C-peptide and glucose levels from 34 patients with beta-thalassemia and 33 healthy controls. The correlation to age, body mass index, hepatic iron concentration, serum ferritin and serum AST was analyzed.

RESULTS:

Fasting proinsulin (p < 0.002) and proinsulin-to-insulin ratio (p < 0.02) were significantly increased in patients with thalassemia irrespective of the degree of glucose tolerance. They correlated positively to serum ferritin, liver iron, patient age and serum AST (all p < 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS:

Disproportionately elevated proinsulin levels in thalassemic patients indicate early beta-cell dysfunction due to siderosis. An additional biological significance of hyperproinsulinemia and its possible ability to predict long-term iron toxicity in these patients remain to be clarified.

PMID:
12589110
DOI:
10.1159/000068572
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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