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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1998 Sep;83(9):3350-6.

Age-related reduction in glucose elimination is accompanied by reduced glucose effectiveness and increased hepatic insulin extraction in man.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Lund University, Malmö, Sweden.


This study examined whether insulin secretion, insulin sensitivity, glucose effectiveness (SG), and hepatic extraction (HE) of insulin are altered by age when glucose tolerance is normal. A frequently sampled i.v. glucose tolerance test was performed in 20 elderly (E, 10/10 male/female, all 63 yr old) and in 20 young subjects (Y, 10/10 male/female, all 27 yr old), who were similar in body mass index and 2-h blood glucose during oral glucose tolerance test. E exhibited impaired glucose elimination (i.v. tolerance index, 1.31 +/- 0.10 vs. 1.70 +/- 0.12% min-1; P = 0.019). First-phase insulin secretion and SI did not differ between the groups, whereas E had lower glucose sensitivity of second-phase insulin secretion (0.40 +/- 0.07 vs. 0.70 +/- 0.08 (pmol/L)min-2/(mmol/L), P = 0.026), lower SG, 0.017 +/- 0.002 vs. 0.025 +/- 0.002 min-1, P = 0.004), and higher HE (81.3 +/- 2.4 vs. 73.2 +/- 2.1%, P = 0.013). Across both groups, SG correlated positively with glucose tolerance index (r = 0.58, P < 0.001) and negatively with HE (r = -0.54, P < 0.001). Plasma leptin and glucagon did not change by age, whereas plasma pancreatic polypeptide (PP) was higher in E (122 +/- 18 vs. 66 +/- 6 pg/mL, P = 0.004). PP did not, however, correlate to any other parameter. We conclude that E subjects with normal oral glucose tolerance have reduced SG, impaired second-phase insulin secretion, and increased HE, whereas SI and first-phase insulin secretion seem normal. SG seems most related to age-dependent impairment of glucose elimination, whereas leptin, glucagon, and PP do not seem to contribute.

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