A clinical syndrome, characterized by acute diabetic ketoacidosis associated with a toxic neuropathy, developed in five men who intentionally ingested a recently introduced rodenticide (Vacor) containing N-3-pyridylmethyl-N'-p-nitrophenyl urea (RH-787). A 7-yr-old boy, who accidentally ingested this poison, died within 14 h.

Marked insulinopenia, without a reduction in glucagon levels, suggested a specific beta-cytotoxic effect, which was supported after autopsy in three cases by histopathologic evidence of extensive beta cell destruction. Lethal effects in rats prevented investigation of RH-787's diabetogenicity in vivo; however, studies in isolated rat islets confirmed a direct inhibitory effect, which was prevented by concomitant incubation with nicotinamide, suggesting a mechanism of action similar to that of streptozotocin.

We detected islet cell-surface antibodies in two of four patients studied.

These findings indicate that this nongenetic, acquired form of insulinopenic diabetes, which has persisted in the surviving patients for up to 3 yr, presents a unique opportunity to test in man the concept that hyperglycemia and the accompanying metabolic consequences of insulinopenia can induce diabetic microangiopathy in the absence of genetic predisposition.

This content is only available via PDF.