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J Am Soc Nephrol. 2012 Apr;23(4):739-49. doi: 10.1681/ASN.2011080835. Epub 2012 Feb 16.

Early basal insulin therapy decreases new-onset diabetes after renal transplantation.

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Department of Nephrology, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.


No effective interventions to reduce risk for new-onset diabetes after transplantation (NODAT), a condition associated with postoperative hyperglycemia and reduced patient and graft survival, have been established. In this 1-year, proof-of-concept clinical trial, we randomly assigned 50 renal transplant recipients to immediate-postoperative isophane insulin for evening blood glucose ≥140 mg/dl (treatment group) or short-acting insulin and/or oral antidiabetic agents for blood glucose ≥180-250 mg/dl (standard-of-care control group). We included only patients without a history of diabetes who received tacrolimus. By the third postoperative evening, all patients in the treatment group had blood glucose ≥140 mg/dl and were subsequently treated with basal insulin; during the first 3 weeks after transplantation, the mean ± SD daily insulin dosage was 17±11 IU/d. Among controls, 23 (92%) of 25 had blood glucose ≥200 mg/dl and 18 (72%) of 25 received standard-of-care antihyperglycemic treatment. Asymptomatic hypoglycemia occurred five times in the treatment group and once in the control group. Throughout follow-up, the treatment group had 73% lower odds of NODAT (odds ratio, 0.27) than the control group, and hemoglobin A1c was on average 0.38% lower in the treatment group than the control group. Twelve months after transplantation, all patients in the treatment group were insulin-independent, whereas 7 (28%) of 25 controls required antidiabetic agents. The groups did not differ for insulin sensitivity, but the treatment group showed better β-cell function throughout the 1-year follow-up. In conclusion, this study suggests regimens that include basal insulin significantly reduce the odds for NODAT after renal transplantation, presumably via insulin-mediated protection of β cells.

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