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Adv Exp Med Biol. 2017;1043:53-64. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-70178-3_4.

Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus: Sex Differences in Insulin Action and Secretion.

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Division of Endocrinology, Center of Diabetes Technology, University of Virginia School of Medicine, Charlottesville, VA, USA.
Department of Medicine, Gandhi Medical College Bhopal, Bhopal, MP, India.
Division of Endocrinology, University of Virginia School of Medicine, Charlottesville, VA, USA.


Sex difference plays a substantial role in the regulation of glucose metabolism in healthy glucose-tolerant humans. The factors which may contribute to the sex-related differences in glucose metabolism include differences in lifestyle (diet and exercise), sex hormones, and body composition. Several epidemiological and observational studies have noted that impaired glucose tolerance is more common in women than men. Some of these studies have attributed this to differences in body composition, while others have attributed impaired insulin sensitivity as a cause of impaired glucose tolerance in women. We studied postprandial glucose metabolism in 120 men and 90 women after ingestion of a mixed meal. Rates of meal glucose appearance, endogenous glucose production, and glucose disappearance were calculated using a novel triple-tracer isotope dilution method. Insulin action and secretion were calculated using validated physiological models. While rate of meal glucose appearance was higher in women than men, rates of glucose disappearance were higher in elderly women than elderly men while young women had lower rates of glucose disappearance than young men. Hence, sex has an impact on postprandial glucose metabolism, and sex differences in carbohydrate metabolism may have important implications for approaches to prevent and manage diabetes in an individual.

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