Plasma glucose values after oral glucose challenge vary widely in nondiabetic subjects. We have now evaluated the role of insulin resistance in determining the plasma glucose response to oral glucose in 74 volunteer subjects with normal glucose tolerance. In these subjects, we determined the plasma glucose and insulin responses over a 3-h period to a 75-g oral glucose challenge, and the steady-state plasma glucose concentration during a continuous infusion of somatostatin, glucose, and insulin (a quantitative measure of insulin resistance). The plasma glucose response was defined as the incremental increase in plasma glucose concentration above the fasting value for 3 h after the oral glucose challenge. Multiple regression analysis was used to define the relationship between the dependent variable (plasma glucose response) and various predictors of this response. These analyses indicated that both the steady-state plasma glucose and the incremental insulin response during the first 30 min after the glucose load were significant predictors of the plasma glucose response. In those individuals in whom insulin action was impaired and the 30-min plasma insulin response was decreased, plasma glucose values reached higher levels. When standardized regression coefficients were determined, the incremental glucose response was directly correlated with steady-state plasma glucose (r = 0.700, P < 0.001) and inversely with the insulin response during the first 30 min (r = 0.268, P = 0.023). Furthermore, the correlation between steady-state plasma glucose and glucose response was significantly greater (P < 0.005) than that between the glucose response and 30-min insulin concentration. These data demonstrate that both insulin action and insulin secretion are determinants of the plasma glucose response to oral glucose in individuals with normal glucose tolerance.

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