Insulin resistance is a major factor in the pathophysiology of type II diabetes and a major impediment to successful therapy. The identification of treatments that specifically target insulin resistance could improve diabetes management significantly. Since IGFs exert insulin-like actions and increase insulin sensitivity when administered at supraphysiological doses, we determined the effect of 6 weeks of recombinant human IGF-I (rhIGF-I) administration on insulin resistance and glycemic control in obese insulin-resistant patients with type II diabetes. A total of 12 patients with type II diabetes were recruited for the study. Subcutaneous administration of rhIGF-I (100 μg/kg b.i.d.) significantly lowered blood glucose. Fructosamine declined from 369 to 299 µmol/l by 3 weeks of administration and then declined further to 271 at the end of 5 weeks. Glycosylated hemoglobin, which was 10.4% pretreatment, declined to 8.1% at the end of therapy. Mean 24-h blood glucose during a modal day was 14.71 ± 4.5 mmol/l pretreatment and declined to 9.1 ± 3.21 mmol/l by the end of treatment. These improvements in glycemia were associated with a decrease in serum insulin levels. Mean insulin concentrations declined from 108.0 to 57.0 pmol/l during the modal day measurements and from 97.2 to 72.0 pmol/l during the mixed-meal tolerance test. Changes in glycemia were accompanied by a marked increase in insulin sensitivity. The insulin sensitivity index (SI) calculated from a frequently sampled intravenous glucose tolerance test (FSIVGTT) after the method of Bergman et al. (Bergman RN, Finegold DT, Ader M: Assessment of insulin sensitivity in vivo. Endocr Rev 6:45–86, 1985) increased 3.4-fold. Furthermore, the improvement in glycemic control was accompanied by a change in body composition with a 2.1% loss in body fat as calculated by dual energy x-ray absorptiometry without change in total body weight. Significant side effects were present in some subjects, although nine subjects were able to complete at least 4.5 weeks of the protocol and six subjects completed the entire 6 weeks. Supraphysiological IGF-I concentrations were maintained throughout the study, increasing from 206¼g/l in the control period to 849 ¼g/l at the end of 6 weeks of rhIGF-I treatment. The increase in IGF-I levels was accompanied by a significant increase in IGF binding protein-2 levels, a slight reduction in IGF binding protein-3 levels, and an increase in levels of IGF binding protein-1. In summary, IGF-I significantly lowered blood glucose as reflected by short-term and long-term indexes of glycemic control and increased insulin sensitivity. It remains to be determined whether a dosage can be administered that avoids significant side effects and still achieves reasonable glycemic control.

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