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Diabetologia. 2012 Jan;55(1):46-50. doi: 10.1007/s00125-011-2345-8. Epub 2011 Oct 16.

Effects of insulin detemir and NPH insulin on renal handling of sodium, fluid retention and weight in type 2 diabetic patients.

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  • 1Department of Nephrology, Rigshospitalet, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark.



In type 2 diabetic patients, insulin detemir (B29Lys(ε-tetradecanoyl),desB30 human insulin) induces less weight gain than NPH insulin. Due to the proposed reduction of tubular action by insulin detemir, type 2 diabetic patients should have increased urinary sodium excretion, thereby reducing extracellular volume and body weight when changed from NPH insulin to insulin detemir.


In a randomised, open-labelled, two-way crossover study of 24 patients with type 2 diabetes, patients were first treated with NPH insulin or insulin detemir for 8 weeks. Thereafter, they were changed to the other insulin for 8 weeks. In a third 1 week period, they were changed back to the first insulin.


At the end of 8 weeks, body weight was reduced by 0.8 ± 0.2 kg (mean ± SEM) on insulin detemir compared with NPH insulin (p < 0.01). After insulin detemir treatment, we also observed a significant reduction of lean body mass (0.8 ± 0.2 kg, p < 0.05) and a non-significant reduction of extracellular volume (0.8 ± 0.5 l/1.73 m², p = 0.14). The weight loss occurred after as early as 1 week (0.8 ± 0.2 kg, p < 0.001), with a simultaneous and transient increase of urinary sodium excretion (p = 0.07).


Insulin detemir induces significant and sustained weight loss, which is first observed at 1 week after changing from NPH insulin. The initial weight loss seems to be related to changes in fluid volume and may reflect changed insulin action in the kidneys.


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