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Non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) has a substantial genetic component. Impaired insulin secretion, insulin insensitivity in muscle and adipose tissue, and elevated hepatic glucose production are the major pathophysiological features of NIDDM. Insulin insensitivity is also a feature of the insulin resistance syndrome, which describes the epidemiological association of glucose intolerance, upper body obesity, hyperinsulinaemia, hypertension, increased triglyceride levels and decreased high-density-lipoprotein (HDL)-cholesterol concentrations. Insulin insensitivity has been found to be a familial trait, and this raises the hypothesis that the insulin resistance syndrome may also occur as a familial trait in caucasian families in association with the development of NIDDM. The 90 first degree relatives of 50 caucasian subjects with NIDDM were studied with a continuous infusion glucose tolerance test to quantitate glucose tolerance, insulin sensitivity and beta-cell function. Body mass index (BMI), blood pressure, fasting triglyceride and HDL-cholesterol measurements were obtained, and the intercorrelations between these variables were examined. As a group the first degree relatives had a median insulin sensitivity of 65% (interquartile range 46-99%). Insulin sensitivity was univariately correlated with systolic and diastolic blood pressure, triglyceride and HDL-cholesterol. These associations were present in both the hyperglycaemic and the normoglycaemic relatives. The hyperglycaemic relatives were significantly more insulin insensitive than the normoglycaemic relatives, but this additional insulin insensitivity was not associated with significant differences in blood pressure, triglyceride or HDL-cholesterol concentrations. Our data indicate that the insulin insensitivity present in the first degree relatives of subjects with NIDDM is correlated with the cardiovascular risk factors which make up the insulin resistance syndrome, and that glycaemic status does not appear to be the major determinant of these associations. Interventions targeting obesity and insulin insensitivity in these subjects may reduce cardiovascular risk.


Journal article


Diabetes Res Clin Pract

Publication Date





91 - 99


Adult, Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2, Family Health, Female, Humans, Insulin Resistance, Male, Middle Aged, Reproducibility of Results, Sensitivity and Specificity, Syndrome