Type 2 diabetes is a slowly progressive disease, in which the gradual deterioration of glucose tolerance is associated with the progressive decrease in β-cell function. Hyperglycemia per se has deleterious effects on both beta-cell function and insulin action, which are partially reversible by the short-term control of blood glucose levels. We hypothesized that the induction of euglycemia, using intensive insulin therapy at the time of clinical diagnosis, could lead to a significant improvement in insulin secretion and action and thus alter the clinical course of the disease.


Thirteen newly diagnosed diet-unresponsive type 2 diabetic patients were treated with continuous subcutaneous insulin infusion (CSII) for 2 weeks and followed longitudinally while being treated with diet alone.


Four patients were considered therapeutic failures since CSII failed to induce euglycemia (n = 1) or glucose control deteriorated within 6 months after CSII (n = 3). The remaining nine patients were maintained on diet alone with adequate control from 9 to > 50 months (median ± SE, 26 ± 4.8 months). In five patients, glycemic control deteriorated after 9–36 months, but a repeat 2-week CSII treatment reestablished control in four patients. One of these patients underwent a third CSII treatment 13 months later. At the time this article was written, six patients of the initial group were still controlled without medication 16–59 months (median ± SE, 45.5 ± 6.6 months) after the initiation of treatment. Body weight remained unchanged in all patients.


These findings suggest that in a significant proportion of type 2 diabetic patients who fail to respond to dietary measures, short-term intensive insulin treatment can effectively establish responsiveness, allowing long-term glycemic control without medication. Further studies are required to establish whether simpler treatment regimens could be equally effective. If the hypothesis offered here finds support, present approaches to the management of newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes may need to be revised.

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