Impaired glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity have been reported in patients with Gitelman syndrome (GS), but insulin secretion and the related mechanisms are not well understood.
Design and methods
The serum glucose levels, insulin secretion and insulin sensitivity were evaluated in patients with GS (n = 28), patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM) and healthy individuals (n = 20 in both groups) using an oral glucose tolerance test. Serum and urine sodium, potassium and creatinine levels were measured at 0, 30, 60, 120 and 180 min after an oral glucose load was administered.
The areas under the serum glucose curves were higher in the GS patients than those in the healthy controls (17.4 ± 5.1 mmol·h/L vs 14.5 ± 2.8 mmol·h/L, P = 0.02) but lower than those in the DM patients (24.8 ± 5.3 mmol·h/L, P < 0.001). The areas under the serum insulin curves and the insulin secretion indexes in GS patients were higher than those in DM patients and lower than those in healthy subjects. The insulin secretion-sensitivity index of GS patients was between that of healthy subjects and DM patients, but the insulin sensitivity indices were not different among the three groups. After one hour of glucose administration, the serum potassium level significantly decreased from baseline, and the urinary potassium-to-creatinine ratio increased gradually and peaked at 2 h.
Glucose metabolism and insulin secretion were impaired in GS patients, but insulin sensitivity was comparable between GS patients and patients with type 2 DM. After administration of an oral glucose load, the plasma potassium level decreased in GS patients due to the increased excretion of potassium in the urine.