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CMAJ. 1991 Nov 15;145(10):1227-37.

Insulin-dependent (type I) diabetes mellitus.

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Lawson Diabetes Centre, St. Joseph's Health Centre, London, Ont.


Insulin-dependent (type I) diabetes mellitus is a chronic disease characterized by hyperglycemia, impaired metabolism and storage of important nutrients, evidence of autoimmunity, and long-term vascular and neurologic complications. Insulin secretory function is limited. Cell membrane binding is not primarily involved. The goal of treatment is to relieve symptoms and to achieve blood glucose levels as close to normal as possible without severe hypoglycemia. However, even with education and self-monitoring of the blood glucose level, attaining recommended target values (plasma glucose level less than 8.0 mmol/L before main meals for adults) remains difficult. Human insulin offers no advantage in glycemic control but is important in the management and prevention of immune-related clinical problems (e.g., injection-site lipoatrophy, insulin resistance and allergy) associated with the use of beef or pork insulin. Therapy with one or two injections per day of mixed short-acting or intermediate-acting insulin preparations is a compromise between convenience and the potential for achieving target plasma glucose levels. Intensive insulin therapy with multiple daily injections or continuous infusion with an insulin pump improves mean glycated hemoglobin levels; however, it increases rates of severe hypoglycemia and has not been shown to decrease the incidence of clinically significant renal, retinal or neurologic dysfunction. Future prospects include automated techniques of insulin delivery, immunosuppression to preserve endogenous insulin secretion and islet transplantation.

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