Extreme insulin resistance occurs in patients with primary defects in insulin action at the receptor or postreceptor levels. The condition commonly is associated with acanthosis nigricans and ovarian masculinization. Despite a marked increase in insulin secretion, some patients develop frank diabetes mellitus that does not respond adequately to insulin therapy. Insulinlike growth factor I exerts metabolic effects similar to those of insulin. This study assessed the potential effectiveness of IGF-I as a blood glucose lowering agent in patients with extreme insulin resistance syndromes, including type A insulin resistance, congenital generalized lipodystrophy, and leprechaunism. Among the 11 patients studied, some exhibited mutated insulin receptors, whereas others were suspected to have defects in postreceptor sites. In each patient, plasma glucose levels decreased in response to subcutaneous injections of recombinant human IGF-I (0.1−0.3 mg/kg body wt). The degree of the decrease was roughly comparable with that observed in normal individuals. IGF-I also reduced plasma insulin concentrations. A long-term trial of IGF-I (up to 16 mo) showed that IGF-I (0.1−0.4 mg/kg body wt twice daily) is effective in lowering both fasting and postprandial plasma glucose concentrations with decreases in both fructosamine and HbA1c values. Improvement of acanthosis nigricans was observed in some of the patients. These results suggest that recombinant human IGF-I could be used clinically as a hypoglycemic agent in diabetic patients with extreme insulin resistance in whom insulin treatment is ineffective.

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