Clin Ther 2019 May 13;41(5):920-928. Epub 2019 Apr 13.
Department of Endocrinology, Key Laboratory of Endocrinology of National Health Commission, Peking Union Medical College Hospital, Peking Union Medical College & Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, Beijing, China. Electronic address:
Purpose: Insulin autoimmune syndrome (IAS) is a relatively rare cause of hypoglycemia characterized by endogenous hyperinsulinism and autoantibodies against endogenous insulin despite no prior exposure to exogenous insulin. We present a series of IAS cases and describe the clinical characteristics of these cases.
Methods: The medical records of inpatients with the final diagnosis of IAS were collected from August 2007 to August 2017 in Peking Union Medical College Hospital. Clinical characteristics and laboratory test results were summarized. The results of serum glucose, insulin, true insulin, and C-peptide testing during 5-h oral glucose tolerance tests were also summarized. Circulating immune complexes were assessed qualitatively by precipitation with polyethylene glycol (PEG) in some patients.
Findings: Sixteen patients were included in this study. Insulin autoimmune antibody test results were found positive in 12 patients and weakly positive in 1 patient. Nine patients had an insulin to C-peptide molar ratio >1, whereas 6 patients had an insulin to C-peptide molar ratio <1. Circulating immune complexes were verified in all 4 patients who had been assessed with PEG. During 5-h oral glucose tolerance tests, the C-peptide level responded earlier to the glucose tolerance and had a shorter peak value period compared with insulin, although C-peptide's fluctuation still lagged behind the glucose fluctuation. Three patients presented with self-limited disease courses or limited disease course after discontinuing use of the sulfhydryl group drugs. Some patients' symptoms were relieved after small frequent meals, and some were relieved after taking acarbose. Only 3 patients took glucocorticoids as the anti-immune therapy.
Implications: The insulin to C-peptide molar ratios were not consistently >1 in patients with confirmed diagnoses of IAS in our study, which suggested the low sensitivity of insulin to C-peptide molar ratio to detect IAS. The therapy in our study also revealed the self-limited disease course of IAS, and despite the effectiveness of anti-immunity therapy, convenient therapy, such as frequent small meals and adding acarbose, performed well in many patients.