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Diabetes Care. 1990 Dec;13(12):1240-64.

Insulin use in NIDDM.

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Case Western Reserve University, Mt. Sinai Medical Center, Cleveland, Ohio.


The effects of insulin treatment on the pathophysiology of non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) are reviewed herein. Short-term studies indicate variable and partial reduction in excessive hepatic glucose output, decrease in insulin resistance, and enhancement of beta-cell function. These beneficial actions may be due to a decrease in secondary glucose toxicity rather than a direct attack on the primary abnormality. Insulin should be used as initial treatment of new-onset NIDDM in the presence of ketosis, significant diabetes-induced weight loss (despite residual obesity), and severe hyperglycemic symptoms. In diet-failure patients, prospective randomized studies comparing insulin to sulfonylurea treatment show approximately equal glycemic outcomes or a slight advantage to insulin. A key goal of insulin therapy is to normalize the fasting plasma glucose level. In contrast to the conventional use of morning injections of intermediate- and long-acting insulin, preliminary studies suggest potential advantages of administering the same insulins only at bedtime. Obese patients may require several hundred units of insulin daily and still not achieve satisfactory control. In some, addition of a sulfonylurea to insulin may reduce hyperglycemia, the insulin dose, or both. However, long-term benefits from such combination therapy remain to be demonstrated conclusively. Established adverse effects of insulin treatment in NIDDM are hypoglycemia, particularly in the elderly, and weight gain. Self-monitoring of blood glucose can identify patients in whom excessive weight gain is caused by subtle hypoglycemia. Whether insulin causes weight gain by direct effects on appetite or energy utilization remains controversial. A potential adverse effect of insulin has been suggested by epidemiological studies showing associations between hyperinsulinemia or insulin resistance and increased risk for coronary artery disease, stroke, and hypertension. Although potential mechanisms for an atherogenic action of insulin exist, current evidence does not prove cause and effect and does not warrant withholding insulin therapy (or compromising on dosage) when it is needed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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