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Med Princ Pract. 2003 Apr-Jun;12(2):87-91.

Diabetes mellitus and lung function.

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Department of Physiology, Larissa General Hospital, Larissa, Greece.



To assess the nature of pulmonary dysfunction in type 1 diabetes and the relationship of pulmonary function tests to diabetic factors and complication.


Sixteen type 1 diabetic patients and 26 control subjects matched for age and sex were studied. We performed spirometry measurements and measured pulmonary diffusing capacity (DL(CO)) in sitting and supine position by the single-breath method corrected by alveolar volume (VA). Glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA(Ic)), retinopathy and microalbuminuria were included as parameters of metabolic control and diabetic complications.


Diabetic patients showed a significant reduction of the following pulmonary function tests (% predicted value) as compared with control subjects: total lung capacity (TLC, 92.6 +/- 14.5 vs. 113.9 +/- 17.5, p < 0.001), lung diffusing capacity in sitting position (DL(CO), 90.4 +/- 21.1 vs. 107.7 +/- 15.6, p = 0.004), lung diffusing capacity in supine position (DL(CO), 88.3 +/- 19.3 vs. 111.9 +/- 19.9, p = 0.001). The differences in diffusing capacity corrected by alveolar volume in sitting and supine position (DL(CO)/VA) were not significant. By changing the posture from sitting to supine position both diabetic patients and control subjects significantly increased DL(CO)/VA (103.4 +/- 17.7 vs. 112.7 +/- 22.3, p = 0.046 and 99.5 +/- 13.4 vs. 114.4 +/- 13, p < 0.001, respectively). There was no correlation between pulmonary function tests and diabetic complications.


These data indicate that type 1 diabetic patients showed reduced TLC and DL(CO), features of pulmonary restrictive dysfunction. There was no correlation between abnormal pulmonary function and the presence of other diabetic complications.

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