In healthy individuals, blood glucose levels in the fasting state are maintained by the continuous basal-level insulin secretion. After a meal, the rise in postprandial glucose (PPG) is controlled by the rapid pancreatic release of insulin, stimulated by both glucose and the intestinal production of the incretins glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide and glucagon-like peptide 1. In diabetic individuals, postprandial insulin secretion is insufficient to suppress an excessive rise in PPG. There is increasing evidence that elevated PPG exerts a more deleterious effect on the vascular system than elevation of fasting plasma glucose. In particular, individuals with normal fasting plasma glucose but impaired glucose tolerance have significantly increased risk of cardiovascular events. With the recognition of the importance of PPG and the availability of new pharmacologic options, management of diabetes will shift to greater attention to PPG levels. The prototype for such an approach is in the treatment of gestational diabetes and diabetic pregnancies where PPG is the primary target of efforts at glycemic control. These efforts have been extremely successful in improving the outlook for diabetic pregnant women. There are many approaches to reduction of PPG; dietary management and promotion of exercise are very effective. Sulfonylureas, meglitinides, metformin, thiazolidinediones, and disaccharidase inhibitors all counteract PPG elevation. The development of glucagon-like peptide 1 agonists such as exendin and dipeptidyl peptidase IV inhibitors such as vildagliptin offers a new approach to suppression of PPG elevation. New semisynthetic insulin analogues permit a more aggressive response to postprandial glucose elevation, with lower risk of hypoglycemia, than with regular insulin. Inhaled insulin also has a rapid onset of action and offers benefits in PPG control. It is proposed that an aggressive treatment approach focusing on PPG, similar to the current standards for diabetic pregancies, be directed at individuals with diabetes and impaired glucose tolerance.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism