A woman born in 1949 was diagnosed in 1990 with systemic lupus erythematosus. She was treated with prednisolone, and < 1 year later she presented with marked hyperglycemia. Large doses of insulin were given four times per day. Even though the patient was thin (BMI 17.4 kg/m2), very little improvement was seen.
Serum insulin levels were high, and a euglycemic clamp investigation confirmed severe insulin resistance. The patient's serum contained insulin receptor antibodies inhibiting insulin binding, and thus the patient had a type B syndrome of insulin resistance. After diet and exercise, glycemic control stabilized and insulin treatment was withdrawn. However, in late 1993 she was in a catabolic and hyperglycemic state even though prednisolone doses were increased and azathioprin was added. In early 1994 she was treated with plasmapheresis and cyclophosphamide i.v. Subsequently, cyclosporin A was started as a maintenance therapy in addition to azathioprin. There was a rapid and sustained clinical improvement. Since late 1994 and onward, there is no sign of diabetes or glucose intolerance and there are no demonstrable insulin receptor antibodies in the patient's serum.
Severe type B insulin resistance may respond favorably to treatment with plasmapheresis and cyclophosphamide followed by cyclosporin A in combination with azathioprin.