Abnormalities of both insulin secretion and insulin action occur in NIDDM. It is not clear, however, which is the primary defect. Recently, it has been suggested that the frequency of insulin pulses is an important factor regulating insulin action in normal humans. We examined the relationship between pulsatile insulin secretion and insulin action in eight NIDDM subjects and eight health matched control subjects. Insulin action was assessed prevailing fasting glucose levels before and after hype insulinemia (2-h insulin infusion at 2.0 mU · kg−1 · min−1). Pulsatility of insulin was assessed by sampling every 2 min for 90 min after an overnight fast and identifying insulin pulses using the computer program Pulsar. Fasting plasma glucose and postabsorptive endogenous glucose production were both greater in diabetic subjects compared with control subjects (10.1 ± 1.2 vs. 5.4 ± 0.1 mmol/l, P < 0.01; 11.8 ± 0.8 vs. 9.9 ± 0.4 μmol · kg−1 · min−1, P < 0.05). During the 2.0 mU insulin infusion, glucose clearance was lower in the diabetic subjects (3.6 ± 0.7 vs. 6.9 ± 0.5 ml · kg−1 · min−1), P < 0.05), whereas endogenous glucose production was suppressed to a similar degree in both groups (4.5 ± 0.8 vs. 3.6 ± 0.7 μmol · kg−1 · min−1, NS). The frequency of insulin pulses and glucose clearance were negatively correlated in both diabetic subjects (r = −0.75, P < 0.05) and normal control subjects (r = −0.82, P < 0.01). This negative correlation was also present in both groups taken together (r = −0.72, P < 0.001). There was no correlation between insulin pulse frequency and endogenous glucose production either in the fasting state or during hyperinsulinemia. We concluded that the frequency of insulin pulses and peripheral insulin sensitivity are closely linked in NIDDM and normal subjects.

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