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Carbohydrate Homeostasis and Pancreatic Islet Cell Function in Thalassemia

M. NATHAN LASSMAN, M.D.; MYRON GENEL, M.D.; JONATHAN K. WISE, M.D.; ROSA HENDLER, M.D.; and PHILIP FELIG, M.D., F.A.C.P.
[+] Article and Author Information

Grant support: grants 5 TO1-AM-05015-17, AM-13526, and RR-125, National Institutes of Health. Dr. Felig has a Research Career Development Award (AM-70219) from the National Institutes of Health.

▸Requests for reprints should be addressed to Philip Felig, M.D., Department of Internal Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06510.


New Haven, Connecticut


Ann Intern Med. 1974;80(1):65-69. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-80-1-65
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Glucose tolerance and pancreatic alpha and beta cell functions were evaluated in eight thalassemic patients, from 5 to 31 years old, receiving chronic transfusion therapy. Two patients had insulin-dependent diabetes, and two had a diabetic glucose tolerance test; one patient had a blood glucose response compatible with reactive hypoglycemia. All but two patients had a delayed or diminished insulin response, or both, to glucose infusion. In seven of eight patients the glucagon response to infusion of alanine was significantly reduced. Abnormalities of carbohydrate homeostasis are frequently seen in regularly transfused thalassemic patients. In such patients iron overload often results in diminished alpha and beta cell function.

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