We evaluated carbohydrate tolerance in nine thin cystic fibrosis (CF) patients and in six controls, measuring responsiveness to the following insulinotropic secretagogues: oral glucose, IV glucose, and IV tolbutamide. Glucose responses segregated patients into two groups: Group I with normal carbohydrate tolerance associated with normal to slightly increased insulin responses, and Group II with impaired carbohydrate tolerance associated with insulinopenia. This latter group included one patient with frank diabetes. The CF patients demonstrated a significant positive correlation between insulin secretion, in response to each secretagogue, and pancreatic exocrine function as measured by serum pancreatic amylase isoenzyme concentration. Pancreatic α-cell function, as reflected by basal plasma glucagon concentrations, also correlated well with exocrine function in the CF patients, excluding the diabetic individual. The enteroinsular axis of the CF group was intact as reflected by normal plasma gastric inhibitory polypeptide concentrations in Group I and by elevated levels, basally and in response to oral glucose, in the insulinopenic Group II patients. Furthermore, those patients with impaired tolerance demonstrated a greater magnitude of insulinopenia compared to controls following IV glucose and possibly IV tolbutamide, than following oral glucose. Thus, these data suggest that loss of carbohydrate tolerance in patients with CF, like that seen with classical chronic pancreatitis, 1) parallels the loss of exocrine function, 2) is associated with appropriate enteroinsular signaling, and 3) can be detected earlier or more easily following testing with direct IV secretagogues than following oral glucose stimulation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health