Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Role of residual insulin secretion in protecting against ketoacidosis in insulin-dependent diabetes.

Br Med J 1979; 2 doi: (Published 17 November 1979) Cite this as: Br Med J 1979;2:1257
  1. S Madsbad,
  2. K G Alberti,
  3. C Binder,
  4. J M Burrin,
  5. O K Faber,
  6. T Krarup,
  7. L Regeur


    The role of preserved beta-cell function in preventing ketoacidosis in type I insulin-dependent diabetes was assessed in eight patients with and seven patients without residual beta-cell function as determined from C-peptide concentrations. After 12 hours of insulin fatty-acid, and glycerol concentrations were all significantly higher in patients without beta-cell function than in those with residual secretion. Mean blood glucose concentrations reached 17.2 +/- SE of mean 1.3 mmol/l (310 +/- 23 mg/100 ml) in the first group compared with 8.8 +/- 1.4 mmol/l (159 +/- 25 mg/100 ml) in the second (P less than 0.01), while 3-hydroxybutyrate concentrations rose to 5.5 +/- mmol/l (57 +/- 5 mg/100 ml) and 1.4 +/- 0.3 mmol/l (15 +/- 3 mg/100 ml) in the two groups respectively (P less than 0.01). Individual mean C-peptide concentrations showed a significant inverse correlation with the final blood glucose values (r = -0.91; P less than 0.02). These findings strongly suggest that even minimal residual insulin secretion is important for metabolic wellbeing in diabetes and may prevent the development of severe ketoacidosis when insulin delivery is inadequate.