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Diabet Med. 2009 Jun;26(6):582-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1464-5491.2009.02738.x.

Mechanisms of glucose intolerance in cystic fibrosis.

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  • 1The Adult Cystic Fibrosis Unit, The Cardiothoracic Centre NHS Trust, Liverpool L143PE, UK.



Although cystic fibrosis-related diabetes (CFRD), a poor prognostic factor in cystic fibrosis (CF), is characterized by insulinopenia, the role of insulin resistance is unclear. Using a prospective study design, we measured insulin resistance, pancreatic beta-cell function and correlated glycaemic status with clinical parameters.


Oral glucose tolerance test was performed in 60 stable adult CF patients. Insulin sensitivity and beta-cell function were measured using the homeostatic model assessment (HOMA2), Stumvoll and oral glucose insulin sensitivity (OGIS) indices.


Forty-two (70%) had normal glucose tolerance (NGT), 10 (17%) impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) and eight (13%) CFRD. There was no difference in insulin sensitivity among the three groups (HOMA2: NGT 280, IGT 250, CFRD 339, P = 0.42; Stumvoll: NGT 0.128, IGT 0.126, CFRD 0.129, P = 0.76; and OGIS: NGT 515, IGT 472, CFRD 472, P = 0.12). Pancreatic beta-cell function (CFRD 50% vs. NGT 67%; P < 0.05) and first-phase insulin secretion were reduced in CFRD (250 vs. NGT 509; P = 0.004). First-phase insulin secretion was inversely correlated with 1-h (r = -0.74; P < 0.0001) and 2-h glucose levels (r = -0.34; P < 0.05). There was no difference in body mass index or poor lung function (forced expiratory volume in 1 s: CFRD 54% vs. NGT 65%; P = 0.43). However, there were more hospital admissions in the CFRD group (three vs. NGT one per patient per year; P < 0.05).


CFRD is characterized by qualitative and quantitative defects in insulin secretion, but not insulin resistance, and is associated with increased hospital admissions for pulmonary exacerbations.

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