Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic disorder with multiple causes, characterized by chronic hyperglycemia with disturbances of carbohydrate, fat and protein metabolism. It generally results from a combination of insulin resistance and loss of -cell function.1 Insulin resistance places an increased secretory demand upon the -cell, leading to -cell dysfunction as the disease progresses.2 In the long term, type 2 diabetes affects a number of organs and is associated with microvascular complications such as retinopathy, nephropathy and neuropathy. In addition, individuals with type 2 diabetes are at increased risk of macrovascular disease.1 Often diagnosis of type 2 diabetes is made after the condition has been present for some years. In fact, more than 50% of individuals have evidence of vascular disease at diagnosis.3 1Definition, Diagnosis and Classification of Diabetes Mellitus and its Complications. Department of Noncommunicable Disease Surveillance, World Health Organization, Geneva 1999. Available at: http://www.diabetes.org.uk/infocentre/carerec/diagnosi.doc 2International Diabetes Center (IDC), Minneapolis, 2000. Available at: http://www.parknicollet.com/diabetes/aboutdiabetes/type2.html 3Laakso M. Int J Clin Pract Suppl. 2001; 121:8–12.
Insulin resistance is the inability of the body to use its own insulin. Insulin resistance is present to varying degrees in a high proportion of the general population.1 Insulin resistance may lead to impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) and eventually to the development of type 2 diabetes.2,3 &gt; 80% of individuals with type 2 diabetes are insulin resistant.4 Insulin resistance is also a strong predictor for the development of type 2 diabetes.4 Many people with type 2 diabetes are obese – this can be up to ~85% in some populations,5 which may explain their insulin resistance. 1American Diabetes Association. Diabetes Care 1998; 21:310–314. 2Beck-Nielsen H & Groop LC. J Clin Invest 1994; 94:1714–1721. 3Bloomgarden ZT. Clin Ther 1998; 20:216–231. 4Haffner SM, et al. Circulation 2000; 101:975–980. 5Boden G. Diabetes 1997; 46:3–10.
Together with insulin resistance, -cell dysfunction is one of the two major defects involved in development of type 2 diabetes1 and is often inherited. -cell dysfunction may be a consequence of insulin resistance, but also occurs in insulin-sensitive individuals.2 In the insulin-resistant state, the pancreas is able to initially compensate for insulin resistance through increased production of insulin.1 With time, however, the -cells are unable to maintain increased insulin secretion leading to the development of impaired glucose tolerance and type 2 diabetes.1 1DeFronzo RA, et al. Diabetes Care 1992; 15:318–354. 2Haffner SM, et al. Circulation 2000; 101:975–980.
A number of factors, both genetic and environmental, influence the development of insulin resistance and -cell dysfunction. In addition to the risk posed by inherited factors, a Western lifestyle (i.e. sedentary lifestyle, high-fat diet) can contribute to obesity, a strong risk factor for insulin resistance. Insulin resistance at the tissue level contributes significantly to hyperglycemia and is due primarily to abnormalities in the way that the effects of insulin are carried from the receptor on the cell’s surface to intracellular proteins that regulate glucose transport. The consequences of insulin resistance include reduced glucose uptake into fat and muscle, and increased glucose production by the liver.1 -cell dysfunction is characterized by a reduced ability to respond to raised glucose levels leading to reduced insulin secretion, which in turn results in chronic hyperglycemia. Together, these two factors often lead to the development of type 2 diabetes, and so are key targets for therapeutic intervention. 1Rhodes CJ & White MF. Eur J Clin Invest 2002; 32 (Suppl. 3):3–13.
Over time, changes in insulin resistance and secretion lead to the onset of type 2 diabetes. In the early stages, as insulin resistance rises, there is a compensatory increase in insulin secretion and glucose levels remain normal (normoglycemia). In the long term, however, as the -cells begin to fail, insulin secretion falls, IGT and hyperglycemia become apparent and frank type 2 diabetes develops. IGT may be defined as higher than normal blood glucose levels, but not high enough to be called diabetes. People with IGT may or may not go on to develop diabetes. Glucose levels both before (fasting) and after (post-prandial) meals increase steadily as the individual progresses from normoglycemia to IGT and, finally, type 2 diabetes. International Diabetes Center (IDC), Minneapolis, 2000.
Methods to measure insulin resistance include challenging individuals with glucose (known as the clamp) and the mathematical homeostasis model assessment (HOMA).1,2 The clamp technique is considered the ‘gold standard’ for measuring insulin resistance, but this method is demanding and expensive and, therefore, not appropriate for large-scale studies.1 HOMA is more appropriate where rapid or repeated assessment of insulin sensitivity is required on a larger scale.1,3 1Bergman RN, et al. Eur J Clin Invest 2002; 32 (Suppl. 3):35–45. 2Matthews DR, et al. Diabetologia 1985; 28:412–419. 3Bonora E, et al. Diabetes Care 2000; 23:57–63.
The 7-year follow-up of the San Antonio Heart Study revealed that 195 of 1,734 subjects (11%) progressed to type 2 diabetes. These 195 converters could be characterized into four groups: insulin resistant; low insulin secretion (54%) insulin resistant; good insulin secretion (29%) insulin sensitive; low insulin secretion (16%) insulin sensitive; good insulin secretion (1%). In the study, insulin resistance was most strongly associated with progression to type 2 diabetes, with 83% of converters being insulin resistant. The lowest risk of developing type 2 diabetes was in subjects who were insulin sensitive combined with good insulin secretory capacity (1%). Haffner SM, et al. Circulation 2000; 101:975–980.
The consequences of insulin resistance at the tissue level include reduced glucose uptake into peripheral sites, that is, fat and muscle. Combined with excessive glucose output by the liver, this leads to hyperglycemia.
Most deaths in type 2 diabetes are due to cardiovascular disease, especially coronary heart disease.1 Overall mortality for coronary heart disease is two to four times higher in diabetic individuals than in those without diabetes.2 IGT is also an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease.3 1Gray RP & Yudkin JS. Cardiovascular disease in diabetes mellitus. In Textbook of Diabetes 2nd Edition, 1997. Blackwell Sciences. 2Haffner SM & Miettinen H. Am J Med 1997; 103:152–162. 3Qiao Q, et al. Diabetes Care 2003; 26:2910–2914.
Insulin resistance is strongly associated with the incidence of cardiovascular disease.1 In a prospective analysis of 1,326 subjects in the Verona Diabetes Complications Study, insulin resistance (as measured by estimates of HOMA) was confirmed as an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease.2 Moreover, insulin resistance was as strong a risk factor as smoking. Both of these factors carried a greater risk for developing cardiovascular disease than either age or total:HDL cholesterol ratio.2 1Hanley AJ, et al. Diabetes Care 2002; 25:1177–1184. 2Bonora E, et al. Diabetes Care 2002; 25:1135–1141.
More than 80% of individuals with type 2 diabetes are insulin resistant.1 Insulin resistance almost doubles the risk of a cardiovascular event.2 Insulin resistance is implicated in almost 50% of annual cardiovascular events in individuals with type 2 diabetes, compared with only 6% in non-diabetic individuals.2 Preventing or modifying insulin resistance should decrease the burden of cardiovascular disease.2 1Haffner SM, et al. Circulation 2000; 101:975–980. 2Strutton D, et al. Am J Manag Care 2001; 7:765–773.
Insulin resistance is closely linked to a number of cardiovascular risk factors, collectively known as the Metabolic Syndrome or Insulin Resistance Syndrome. Components of the Metabolic Syndrome include well known cardiovascular risk factors such as hyperglycemia, dyslipidemia and hypertension. Additional cardiovascular risk factors, that is damage to blood vessels (endothelial dysfunction), clotting abnormalities (hypofibrinolysis) and inflammation, have also been recognized as key components of the Metabolic Syndrome. Together, the cluster of cardiovascular risk factors that make up the Metabolic Syndrome significantly increases the risk of atherosclerosis. Zimmet P. Trends Cardiovasc Med 2002; 12:354–362.
The World Health Organization reports that around 90% of individuals with type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese.1 Fat distribution in the body may be either abdominal (android or central obesity – often referred to as ‘apple-shaped’) or affect the lower body (mainly thighs and buttocks; gynoid obesity – often referred to as ‘pear-shaped’).2 Central obesity (indicated by, for example, high waist:hip ratio; that is waist:hip ratio &gt; 0.90 for men, &gt; 0.85 for women) is a strong risk factor for insulin resistance.3 1 World Health Organization, 2005. http://www.who.int/dietphysicalactivity/publications/facts/obesity 2Basdevant A, et al. Presse Med 1987; 16:167–170. 3Ascaso JF, et al. Eur J Intern Med 2003; 14:101–106.
Over the years, a number of techniques have been used to assess -cell function.1 However, -cell function is difficult to measure and most of these methods are impractical for large-scale use. HOMA is more appropriate for large-scale studies and provides a simple estimate of -cell function from fasting insulin and glucose.2 Sometimes used as a marker for -cell dysfunction, the ratio of proinsulin (the precursor of insulin that is converted to insulin) to total insulin provides a measure of the efficiency of proinsulin processing.1 1Bergman RN, et al. Eur J Clin Invest 2002; 32 (Suppl. 3):35–45. 2Matthews DR, et al. Diabetologia 1985; 28:412–419.
At physiological levels, both glucose and free fatty acids stimulate insulin secretion.1,2 -cell dysfunction may occur as a result of genetic factors. Chronic hyperglycemia, however, may negatively affect the -cell through a process known as glucotoxicity.2 Glucotoxicity is the ability of glucose to stimulate the death of -cells.2 Similarly, chronically elevated free fatty acids have a lipotoxic effect upon the pancreas, inducing -cell dysfunction.3 Lipotoxicity is the ability of free fatty acids to stimulate the death of -cells.3 Oversecretion of insulin to compensate for insulin resistance also contributes to -cell dysfunction. 1Boden G & Shulman GI. Eur J Clin Invest 2002; 32:14–23. 2Kaiser N, et al. J Pediatr Endocrinol Metab 2003; 16:5–22.3Finegood DT & Topp B. Diabetes Obes Metab 2001; 3 (Suppl. 1):S20–S27.
The UK Prospective Diabetes Study (UKPDS) was started in 1977 and was designed to establish whether intensive blood glucose control could reduce the risk of macrovascular or microvascular complications in patients with type 2 diabetes. In the diet-treated group, HbA1c increased steadily over the course of the study. In the sulfonylurea- or insulin-treated group, there was an initial decrease in HbA1c during the first year of the study, followed by a subsequent, progressive increase similar to that seen in the diet-treated group. UK Prospective Diabetes Study (UKPDS) Group. Lancet 1998; 352:837–853.
Extrapolation of the observed rate of decline of -cell function in diet-treated subjects in the UKPDS suggests that loss of -cell function can begin at least 10 years before diagnosis. In the UKPDS, long-term increases in fasting plasma glucose were accompanied by progressive -cell dysfunction as assessed by HOMA.1 Mean -cell function was already less than 50% at diagnosis,2 and none of the therapies used in the study (sulfonylureas, metformin and insulin) were able to prevent or delay the progressive deterioration of -cell function.1 On average, -cell function declines by 1% per year with normal aging, compared with 4% per year in diabetes.1,3 1UKPDS Group. UKPDS 16. Diabetes 1995; 44:1249–1258. 2Holman RR. Diabetes Res Clin Prac 1998; 40 (Suppl.):S21–S25. 3Chiu KC, et al. Clin Endocrinol 2000; 53:569–575.
A number of factors are likely to contribute to the complexities of controlling blood glucose levels in individuals with type 2 diabetes. The Global Partnership has identified several key areas that can help the diabetes care team to increase the proportion of individuals achieving good glycemic control and thus decrease the risk of complications. These include the need to target the underlying pathophysiology of type 2 diabetes.
-glucosidase inhibitors (e.g. acarbose) – delay digestion and absorption of carbohydrates in the gastrointestinal tract.1,2 Sulfonylureas and meglitinides – stimulate insulin secretion from the pancreas.1,2 Biguanides (e.g. metformin) – suppress liver glucose output, enhance insulin sensitivity in the liver and stimulate insulin-mediated glucose disposal. They do not stimulate insulin secretion.1,2 Thiazolidinediones – decrease insulin resistance in fat, muscle and liver. In addition, they improve estimates of -cell function.1,2 1Kobayashi M. Diabetes Obes Metab 1999; 1 (Suppl. 1):S32–S40. 2Nattrass M & Bailey CJ. Baillieres Best Pract Res Clin Endocrinol Metab 1999; 13:309–329.
Clinical studies have shown that treatment with the thiazolidinediones – rosiglitazone and pioglitazone – significantly decreases insulin resistance and improves -cell function in people with type 2 diabetes (as estimated by HOMA).1,2 1Lebovitz HE, et al. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2001; 86:280–288. 2Rosenblatt S, et al. Coron Artery Dis 2001; 12:413–423.
The Troglitazone in Prevention of Diabetes (TRIPOD) study highlighted the potential of thiazolidinediones to reduce progression to type 2 diabetes in at-risk individuals. In this study, women with previous gestational diabetes were treated with placebo (n = 133) or troglitazone 400 mg/day (n = 133) for 5 years. Treatment with troglitazone delayed or prevented the onset of type 2 diabetes (P = 0.009) by at least 50%. Average annual diabetes incidence rates were 12% and 5% in women assigned to placebo and troglitazone, respectively (P &lt; 0.01). This protective effect was associated with preservation of pancreatic -cell function and seemed to be due to a reduction in the stress placed on -cells by chronic insulin resistance. Protection from diabetes in the troglitazone group persisted 8 months after study medications were stopped, suggesting that the effect was mediated through changes in the natural history of the condition, rather than through effects on circulating glucose levels. Although troglitazone is no longer available, it is generally thought that other agents in this class are likely to have the same effect. Buchanan TA, et al. Diabetes 2002; 51:2796–2803.
Thiazolidinediones have the potential to delay the progression from IGT to type 2 diabetes. In a study of subjects with IGT, randomized to rosiglitazone 8 mg/day (n = 9) or placebo (n = 9), participants underwent an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT, which measures the body&apos;s ability to metabolize glucose) at screening and after 12 weeks’ treatment. In the rosiglitazone group, 44% developed normal glucose tolerance (NGT) and 56% retained IGT by week 12 (P = 0.007 versus placebo). By contrast, in the placebo group, no subjects normalized their glucose tolerance; 11% developed type 2 diabetes and 89% remained IGT. Bennett SM, et al. Diabet Med 2004; 21:415–422.
The UKPDS showed that use of either sulfonylureas or insulin does not significantly reduce the risk of myocardial infarction (P = 0.11) or all-cause mortality (P = 0.49) in overweight patients compared with diet only. In contrast, metformin treatment significantly reduced the risk of myocardial infarction (P = 0.01) and all-cause mortality (P = 0.02) in overweight patients compared with diet only. The effect of metformin on macrovascular outcomes is believed to occur as a consequence of its weak insulin sensitizing effect. UK Prospective Diabetes Study (UKPDS) Group. Lancet 1998; 352:854–865.
Insulin sensitizers are associated with reduced cardiovascular events in individuals with type 2 diabetes. Individuals were divided into two groups: insulin sensitizers (n = 50; thiazolidinediones or biguanides) or non-sensitizers (n = 67; insulin, sulfonylureas or diet). Clinical events were defined as target vessel revascularization (TVR), myocardial infarction (MI), non-TVR and death. After 12 months, treatment with an insulin sensitizer significantly reduced the combined event rate compared with treatment with non-sensitizers (P = 0.041) and reduced deaths (P = 0.049). Kao JA, et al. J Am Coll Cardiol 2004; 43:37A.
Underlying pathophysiology in diabetes
Targeting the Underlying
Pathophysiology of Type 2 Diabetes
Provide practical guidance on improving diabetes
care through highlighting the need to:
• understand that insulin resistance and β-cell
dysfunction are core defects of type 2 diabetes
• address the underlying pathophysiology
Type 2 diabetes
• Characterized by chronic hyperglycemia
• Associated with microvascular and macrovascular
• Generally arises from a combination
of insulin resistance and
Definition, Diagnosis and Classification of Diabetes Mellitus and its Complications. Department of Noncommunicable Disease Surveillance,
World Health Organization, Geneva 1999. Available at: http://www.diabetes.org.uk/infocentre/carerec/diagnosi.doc
• Major defect in individuals with type 2 diabetes1
• Reduced biological response to insulin1–3
• Strong predictor of type 2 diabetes4
• Closely associated with obesity5
What is insulin resistance?
American Diabetes Association. Diabetes Care 1998; 21:310–314.
Beck-Nielsen H & Groop LC. J Clin Invest 1994; 94:1714–1721. 3
Bloomgarden ZT. Clin Ther 1998; 20:216–231.
Haffner SM, et al. Circulation 2000; 101:975–980. 5
Boden G. Diabetes 1997; 46:3–10.
What is β-cell dysfunction?
• Major defect in individuals with type 2 diabetes
• Reduced ability of β-cells to secrete insulin in
response to hyperglycemia
DeFronzo RA, et al. Diabetes Care 1992; 15:318–354.
Insulin resistance and β-cell dysfunction
are core defects of type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes
Rhodes CJ & White MF. Eur J Clin Invest 2002; 32 (Suppl. 3):3–13.
How do insulin resistance and β-cell
dysfunction combine to cause type 2 diabetes?
then β-cell failure
Normal IGT* Type 2 diabetes
*IGT = impaired glucose tolerance
Adapted from Type 2 Diabetes BASICS. International Diabetes Center (IDC), Minneapolis, 2000.
• Several methods exist, including:
– continuous sampling of insulin/glucose1
• gold standard, but impractical for large-scale use
– single measure of insulin/glucose2
• simple estimate from fasting insulin and glucose
• useful for assessment on a larger scale
How is insulin resistance measured?
Bergman RN, et al. Eur J Clin Invest 2002; 32 (Suppl. 3):35–45.
Matthews DR, et al. Diabetologia 1985; 28:412–419.
More than 80% of patients progressing to
type 2 diabetes are insulin resistant
low insulin secretion
good insulin secretion
low insulin secretion (16%)
Haffner SM, et al. Circulation 2000; 101:975–980.
Overall, 75% of patients with
type 2 diabetes die from
Gray RP & Yudkin JS. Cardiovascular disease in diabetes mellitus. In Textbook of Diabetes 2nd Edition, 1997. Blackwell Sciences.
Insulin resistance is as strong a risk factor
for cardiovascular disease as smoking
Age Smoking Total cholesterol:
Bonora E, et al. Diabetes Care 2002; 25:1135–1141.
Insulin resistance is closely linked to
Present in > 80%of
people with type 2 diabetes1
the risk of a cardiac event2
Implicated in almost half of
CHD events in individuals
with type 2 diabetes2
Haffner SM, et al. Circulation 2000; 101:975–980.
Strutton D, et al. Am J Man Care 2001; 7:765–773.
Insulin resistance is linked to a range of
cardiovascular risk factors
Damage to blood
Zimmet P. Trends Cardiovasc Med 2002; 12:354–362.
~90% of people with
type 2 diabetes are
overweight or obese
World Health Organization, 2005. http://www.who.int/dietphysicalactivity/publications/facts/obesity
How is β-cell function measured?
∀ β-cell function is difficult to measure
and most methods are impractical for
• Homeostasis model assessment
(HOMA) provides a simple estimate
of β-cell function2
• Proinsulin:insulin ratio is sometimes
used as a marker of β-cell
Matthews DR, et al. Diabetologia 1985; 28:412–419.
Why does the β-cell fail?
insulin to compensate
for insulin resistance1,2
free fatty acids
Boden G & Shulman GI. Eur J Clin Invest 2002; 32:14–23.
Kaiser N, et al. J Pediatr Endocrinol Metab 2003; 16:5–22.
Finegood DT & Topp B. Diabetes Obes Metab 2001; 3 (Suppl. 1):S20–S27.
Glycemic control declines over time
Years from randomization
Sulfonylurea or insulin
6.2% upper limit of normal range
0 3 6 9 12 15
UK Prospective Diabetes Study (UKPDS) Group. Lancet 1998; 352:837–853.
Loss of β-cell function occurs before diagnosis
Time from diagnosis (years)
-10 -9 -8 -7 -6 -5 -4 -3 -2 -1 1 2 3 4 5 6
Holman RR. Diabetes Res Clin Prac 1998; 40 (Suppl.):S21–S25.
Oral antidiabetic agents – do they
target insulin resistance and
Barriers to achieving good glycemic
Inadequate targeting of underlying
Primary sites of action of oral antidiabetic
↓ Insulin resistance
Kobayashi M. Diabetes Obes Metab 1999; 1 (Suppl. 1):S32–S40.
Nattrass M & Bailey CJ. Baillieres Best Pract Res Clin Endocrinol Metab 1999; 13:309–329.
The dual action of thiazolidinediones
Lebovitz HE, et al. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2001; 86:280–288.
Potential to prevent progression to type 2
diabetes in at-risk women
Troglitazone reduced progression to type 2 diabetes by > 50%
Time on trial (months)
100 20 30 40 50 60
Troglitazone* 400 mg/day
Buchanan TA, et al. Diabetes 2002; 51:2796–2803.
*Troglitazone is no longer available
Week 12 Screening Week 12
Placebo Rosiglitazone 8 mg/day
Can thiazolidinediones delay
progression from IGT to T2DM?
Bennett SM, et al. Diabet Med 2004; 21:415–422.
Does decreasing insulin resistance
decrease macrovascular complications?
21% 8% 39% 36%
UK Prospective Diabetes Study (UKPDS) Group. Lancet 1998; 352:854–865.
Insulin sensitizers reduce cardiovascular
events in type 2 diabetes
Kao JA, et al. J Am Coll Cardiol 2004; 43:37A.
How can diabetes care and outcomes
The Global Partnership recommends:
Address the underlying pathophysiology,
including treatment of insulin resistance
Del Prato S, et al. Int J Clin Pract 2005; 59:1345–1355.