02 December 2008
Beta cell function, peripheral sensitivity to insulin and specific pancreatic autoimmunity were studied in 30 youngsters with cystic fibrosis (CF) accurately selected in order to fulfill the criteria for normal glucose tolerance. With respect to weight-matched controls, patients with CF exhibited a significantly lower glucose tolerance and a globally preserved, although delayed, insulin response to oral glucose tolerance test, while first-phase insulin secretion after i.v. glucose was blunted. Peripheral sensitivity to insulin, assessed in vivo by both the euglycemic clamp technique and the number of insulin receptors, directly measured in circulating monocytes, was superimposable in patients and controls. Serum islet-cell antibodies were not found in any of the patients. In conclusion, disorders of beta cell function may be observed in CF patients even when glucose tolerance is within the normal range. Such abnormalities are not associated with changes in peripheral sensitivity to insulin and do not seem to depend on specific autoimmune events.