[Diabetes mellitus secondary to liver diseases. A review (author's transl)].Diabete Metab. 1975 Sep; 1(3):191-9.DM
Diabetes mellitus is more frequently found in pateints with hepatic cirrhosis (about 10%) than in subjects without liver disease. Cirrhosis has been the main subject of interest in this respect. Very few studies have been made in viral hepatitis or steatosis. In about 40% of cases, the diabetes is identified before the cirrhosis. More often (in about 60% of cases) the diabetes is discovered at the same time as or after the finding of cirrhosis. This "post-cirrhosis diabetes" shows no clinical peculiarity. In about 80% of patients with liver cirrhosis when fasting blood glucose is normal, abnormalities of carbohydrate metabolism are to be found by the oral glucose tolerance test. Approximately 50% show an abnormal response to intravenous glucose and 30% to intravenous tolbutamide. The "mechanism" of these metabolic abnormalities in liver cirrhosis is unknown. The following abnormalities are observed: 1) With similar glycaemic response to a glucose challenge, plasma insulin levels are higher than in patients without liver disease, suggesting insulin unresponsiveness. Resistance to exogenous insulin can be demonstrated. 2) Plasma free fatty acid levels are often elevated. 3) Plasma growth hormone levels are often raised. 4) Plasma glucagon levels are high when porto-caval shunting is present. 5) Potassium is often depleted. These metabolic abnormalities, in association with porto-caval shunting and hepatocyte insufficiency may explain the insulin resistance which characterises liver cirrhosis, and the diabetes which it may precipitate in predisposed persons.