Protein and glutamine kinetics during counter-regulatory failure in type 1 diabetes

A. Battezzati, S. Benedini, L. P. Sereni, F. DeTaddeo, P. Maffi, A. Secchi, L. Luzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background and aims: Healthy individuals counteract insulin-induced hypoglycaemia by increasing glutamine utilization but not proteolysis. Glucagon is important to this response because it increases glutamine uptake. In type 1 diabetes (T1DM) glucagon and epinephrine responses to hypoglycaemia are defective. We investigated whether glutamine and amino acid utilization during hypoglycaemia is altered in T1DM with defective counter-regulatory responses. Methods and results: Eight T1DM patients (duration of diabetes 14 ± 4 years and therefore with presumed defective counter-regulatory response) and eight controls (CON) received a 3 h hypoglycaemic hyperinsulinaemic (0.65 mU/kg per min) clamp coupled to [6,6- 2H 2]glucose, [1- 13C]leucine and [2- 15N]glutamine to trace the relative kinetics. Post-absorptive plasma glucose and glucose uptake were increased in T1DM (9.09 ± 0.99 vs 5.01 ± 0.22 mmol/l and 19.5 ± 0.9 vs 12.6 ± 0.8 μmol/kg per min, p <0.01). During the clamp T1DM but not CON required exogenous glucose (4.4 ± 1.7 μmol/kg per min) to maintain the hypoglycaemic plateau because the endogenous glucose production was significantly suppressed (p <0.01). In T1DM the leucine and phenylalanine concentrations were less suppressed from basal (p <0.05) despite a similar insulin suppression of proteolysis (-16 ± 2 vs -20 ± 4%, p = ns) indicating a defective stimulation of leucine metabolic clearance from basal (+18 ± 3% vs +55 ± 9%, p <0.01). Glutamine concentration remained unchanged from basal (-7 ± 3% vs -35 ± 3%, p <0.01) and the clearance of glutamine was markedly defective in T1DM (+6 ± 2%) in comparison with controls (+22 ± 4%; p = 0.02). Conclusions: In T1DM, the counter-regulatory failure to hypoglycaemia seems to be associated with a defective glutamine utilization. The failure to clear circulating amino acids, specifically glutamine, during hypoglycaemia may adversely affect gluconeogenesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)352-357
Number of pages6
JournalNutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2009


  • Glucagon
  • Gluconeogenesis
  • Glutamine
  • Hypoglycaemia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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