Insulin resistance was quantified with two different methods in 30 subjects with varying degrees of glucose tolerance. One method, the insulin suppression test, is performed by continuously infusing epinephrine, propranolol, insulin, and glucose. Epinephrine and propranolol suppress endogenous insulin release, and steady-state plasma levels of exogenous insulin and glucose are reached in all individuals. Because the steady-state insulin level is the same in all subjects, the height of the steady-state plasma glucose level provides a direct estimate of insulin resistance. The other method, the euglycemic clamp technique, produces a steady-state level of exogenous hyperinsulinemia by means of a primed and continuous insulin infusion. Glucose is also infused at a rate sufficient to prevent an insulin-induced fall in glucose concentration, and the amount of glucose required to maintain the basal plasma glucose level provides the estimates of insulin resistance. The results indicated that estimates of insulin resistance generated by the two methods were highly correlated (r = 0.93). Furthermore, both methods of assessing insulin resistance indicated that the greater the degree of glucose intolerance, the more severe the insulin resistance. These results serve to further emphasize the importance of insulin resistance in the pathogenesis of hyperglycemia in type II diabetes.
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