Effect of Rosiglitazone Versus Insulin on the Pancreatic β-Cell Function of Subjects With Type 2 Diabetes

  1. Fernando Ovalle, MD, FACE and
  2. David S.H. Bell, MB, FACE
  1. Department of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, The University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine, Birmingham, Alabama
  1. Address correspondence and reprint requests to David S.H. Bell, MB, 510 S. 20th St., Rm. 702, Birmingham, AL 35294. E-mail: dshbell{at}uab.edu


OBJECTIVE—In a previous study, we found observational evidence of improvement in β-cell function when rosiglitazone was added to a failing oral antihyperglycemic regimen consisting of sulfonylureas and metformin. To confirm our previous observations, we designed and performed a prospective, randomized, and controlled study.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS—A total of 17 subjects with type 2 diabetes, inadequately controlled on a maximized oral antihyperglycemic double regimen of glimepiride and metformin, were randomized to the addition of rosiglitazone or insulin to their treatment regimens for a period of 6 months. At baseline and at 6 months, the following were performed: measurement of fasting plasma glucose, fasting proinsulin, and insulin levels; frequently sampled intravenous glucose tolerance test; and glucagon stimulation test for C-peptide.

RESULTS—Nine subjects were randomized to the addition of 8 mg rosiglitazone, and eight subjects were randomized to the addition of one injection of insulin (premixed 70/30) before their evening meal. The treatment groups were well matched for age, duration of diabetes, and BMI. Most important, the HbA1c was well matched between groups before treatment (8.7 ± 0.3 and 9.0 ± 0.3%; NS) and at the end of the 6 months (7.8 ± 0.5 and 7.8 ± 0.3%; NS). After 6 months, at the end of the study, there was a significant improvement in acute insulin response to glucose in the rosiglitazone group (+15.3 μIU · ml−1 · 10 min−1; P < 0.001) that led to an increase in the disposition index from 0.18 at baseline to 4.18 at 6 months (P = 0.02). Furthermore, at the end of the study, the proinsulin-to-insulin ratio had decreased in the rosiglitazone group by 36% (P = 0.03) but did not change significantly in the insulin treatment group.

CONCLUSIONS—Rosiglitazone, but not insulin, induced a recovery of pancreatic β-cell function, as evidenced by the restoration of the first-phase insulin response to glucose, improvement in the disposition index, and a decrease in the proinsulin-to-insulin ratio in subjects with type 2 diabetes in whom oral antihyperglycemic therapy failed. This improvement was independent of the correction of glucotoxicity.


  • F.O. has received consulting fees, honoraria, and grant support from GlaxoSmithKline. D.S.H.B. has received consulting fees, honoraria, and grant support from GlaxoSmithKline, Sankyo, BMS, KOS, Amgen, Aventis, and Novo Nordisk.

    A table elsewhere in this issue shows conventional and Système International (SI) units and conversion factors for many substances.

    • Accepted August 2, 2004.
    • Received March 3, 2004.
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