Acromegaly is a clinical syndrome which results from growth hormone excess. Uncontrolled acromegaly is associated with cardiovascular mortality, due to an excess of risk factors including diabetes mellitus, hypertension and cardiomegaly. Diabetes mellitus is a frequent complication of acromegaly with a prevalence of 12–37%. This review will provide an overview of a number of aspects of diabetes mellitus and glucose intolerance in acromegaly including the following:
Epidemiology and pathophysiology of abnormalities of glucose homeostasis
The impact of different management options for acromegaly on glucose homeostasis
The management options for diabetes mellitus in patients with acromegaly
Growth hormone and IGF-1 have complex effects on glucose metabolism. Insulin resistance, hyperinsulinaemia and increased gluconeogenesis combine to produce a metabolic milieu which leads to the development of diabetes in acromegaly. Treatment of acromegaly should ameliorate abnormalities of glucose metabolism, due to reversal of insulin resistance and a reduction in gluconeogenesis. Recent advances in medical therapy of acromegaly have varying impacts on glucose homeostasis. These adverse effects influence management choices in patients with acromegaly who also have diabetes mellitus or glucose intolerance.
The underlying mechanisms of disorders of glucose metabolism in patients with acromegaly are complex. The aim of treatment of acromegaly is normalisation of GH/IGF-1 with reduction of co-morbidities. The choice of therapy for acromegaly should consider the impact of therapy on several factors including glucose metabolism.
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