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Diabete Metab. 1987 Jul-Aug;13(4):436-40.

Role of alpha and beta cells in the impaired glucose tolerance of thalassaemic subjects.

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Istituto di Medicina Generale, University of Naples, Italy.


Fifty healthy and 12 thalassaemic subjects underwent both an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) and arginine test in order to investigate their alpha and beta cell activity. While basal plasma levels were similar in both group of subjects (82 +/- 4 vs 74 +/- 4 mg/dl, p = NS), following glucose intake impaired glucose tolerance was observed in thalassaemic subjects. These subjects showed impaired insulin secretion either in steady-state conditions or after glucose intake. When an arginine test was performed in thalassaemic subjects, impaired insulin secretion with concomitant exaggeration of glucagon response was also observed. In the thalassaemic subjects no statistically significant correlations were found between impaired insulin secretion and iron overload. It is suggested that in thalassaemic subjects beta-cell dysfunction and alpha cell overactivity may lead to the development of diabetes mellitus.

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