Background: Troglitazone is a new insulin-sensitizing agent used to treat type 2 diabetes mellitus. The mechanism by which troglitazone exerts its effect on systemic glucose metabolism is unknown.
Objective: To determine the effects of 6 months of troglitazone monotherapy on glucose metabolism in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus.
Design: Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.
Setting: Six general clinical research centers at university hospitals.
Patients: 93 patients (mean age, 52 years) with type 2 diabetes mellitus (mean fasting plasma glucose level, 11.2 mmol/L) who were being treated with diet alone or who had discontinued oral antidiabetic medication therapy.
Intervention: Patients were randomly assigned to one of five treatment groups (100, 200, 400, or 600 mg of troglitazone daily or placebo) and had metabolic assessment before and after 6 months of treatment.
Measurements: Plasma glucose and insulin profiles during a meal tolerance test; basal hepatic glucose production and insulin-stimulated glucose disposal rate during a hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp procedure.
Results: Troglitazone at 400 and 600 mg/d decreased both fasting (P < 0.001) and postprandial (P = 0.016) plasma glucose levels by approximately 20%. All four troglitazone dosages also decreased fasting (P = 0.012) and postprandial (P < 0.001) triglyceride levels; 600 mg of the drug per day decreased fasting free fatty acid levels (P = 0.018). Plasma insulin levels decreased in the 200-, 400-, and 600-mg/d groups (P < 0.001), and C-peptide levels decreased in all five study groups (P < 0.001). Basal hepatic glucose production was suppressed in the 600-mg/d group compared with the placebo group (P = 0.02). Troglitazone at 400 and 600 mg/d increased glucose disposal rate by approximately 45% above pretreatment levels (P = 0.003). Stepwise regression analysis showed that troglitazone therapy was the strongest predictor of a decrease in fasting (P < 0.001) or postprandial (P = 0.01) glucose levels. Fasting C-peptide level was the next strongest predictor (higher C-peptide level equaled greater glucose-lowering effect).
Conclusion: Troglitazone monotherapy decreased fasting and postprandial glucose levels in patients with type 2 diabetes, primarily by augmenting insulin-mediated glucose disposal.