HbA1(a+b+c)(HbA1) was determined chromatographically in 107 subjects with normal fasting plasma glucose (FPG) and 112 patients with overt diabetes. Subjects with normal FPG were divided into two groups based on their response to two oral glucose tolerance tests (OGTTs), at an interval of 2 mo. In 40 subjects with normal OGTT (group I), HbA1 ranged from 5.2% to 7.2%, while in 67 subjects with abnormal OGTT (group II), it ranged from 6.3% to 9.6%. HbA1 levels were significantly higher in group II than in group I (7.7 ± 0.09% versus 6.4 ± 0.08%, mean ± SEM, P < 0.0005), but 14 subjects of group II had HbA1 levels less than 7.2%. No correlation was found between HbA1 and FPG, OGTT peak, and curve area in either group. However, the correlation became significant in all 107 subjects with normal FPG (groups I + II). In patients with overt diabetes, HbA1 ranged from 6.3% to 18% (11.9 ± 0.22%) and correlated with FPG (r = 0.78, P < 0.0005).

The traditional OGTT seems more sensitive than the HbA1 measurement in detecting subjects with reduced carbohydrate tolerance. HbA1 level, on the other hand, is known to be a more specific indicator of structural abnormalities following long-term hyperglycemia. Thus HbA1 determination might be a helpful test along with OGTT to improve both selection and follow-up of subjects with true borderline diabetes.

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