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Metabolism. 2010 Oct;59(10):1429-34. doi: 10.1016/j.metabol.2010.01.004. Epub 2010 Mar 1.

Pulsatile intermittent intravenous insulin therapy for attenuation of retinopathy and nephropathy in type 1 diabetes mellitus.

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William P. Beetham Eye and John Cook Renal Units, Joslin Diabetes Center, Boston, MA, USA.


Many hormones are secreted in a pulsatile fashion that is more efficient than continuous secretion when tested in vivo. A trial of multiple daily insulin doses with or without the addition of weekly pulsatile insulin infusion therapy was designed to determine if deterioration of renal and retinal function could be blunted. Sixty-five study subjects were evaluated prospectively in 7 centers. Thirty-six patients were randomly allocated to the infusion group and 29 to the standard therapy group. Mean serum creatinine was 1.6 mg/dL in both groups. Subjects were excluded if clearance was less than 30 mL/min. There were no significant differences between the groups with respect to age, duration of diabetes, sex distribution, glycohemoglobin, blood pressure, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor use, proteinuria, or baseline diabetic retinopathy (DR) severity level (all eyes exhibited DR; 8 were deemed technically not amenable to evaluation). Progression of DR was noted in 31.6% of 57 patients (32.3% treated, 30.8% control; P = 1.0) with both eyes evaluable. For patients with 12 or more months of follow-up, 27.9% of 43 patients demonstrated progression of DR (32.0% treated, 22.2% control; P = .57). There were no significant differences between study groups with respect to progression or marked progression, nor was there any influence of duration of follow-up. Progression of DR was noted in 18.8% of 122 eyes that could be adequately evaluated (17.9% of 67 treated, 20% of 55 controls; P = .39). Serum creatinine increased to 1.7 mg/dL in the treatment group and to 1.9 mg/dL in the control group (P = .03). Statistically significant preservation of renal function by pulsatile insulin infusion was not matched by a statistically significant prevention of DR progression compared with standard diabetes care. Inadequate statistical power or duration of the study, or lack of further benefit of pulsatile insulin infusion on the retina in the presence of angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibition may be responsible.


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