There have been differences of opinion among authors concerning the levels of red cell 2,3-diphosphoglycerate (2,3-DPG) and nucleotides in nonacidotic diabetic patients. Our data suggest that abnormal levels of 2,3-DPG in diabetic patients are related to the presence of vascular complications and not to the duration of the disease per se. 2,3-DPG levels are normal in diabetic patients with no evidence of vascular complications (group A). In ambulatory patients with vascular complications (group B), significantly higher levels of 2,3-DPG are found than in normal subjects and patients in group A. In hospitalized diabetic patients with active peripheral vascular complications (group C), levels of 2,3-DPG are likewise significantly increased over those of normal subjects and patients of group A. 2,3-DPG was found to be significantly elevated in patients of group C as compared with group B. 2,3-DPG levels in venous blood from infected legs as compared with those of the peripheral venous blood were not significantly different, thereby ruling out local factors. There were no differences in the blood lactate levels in any of the groups studied. The elevation of the 2,3-DPG levels may be a reflection of attempted red blood cell compensation for tissue hypoxia in the diabetic with vascular disease.

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