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Abstract

Insulin resistance in chronic liver disease (CLD) is well documented. This study investigated whether similar changes occur in acute liver failure (ALF). Patients with ALF (n = 10) were recruited within 72 hours of their peak prothrombin time (range 42-120 seconds). All patients were ventilated for encephalopathy (grade III–IV). Peripheral and endogenous insulin sensitivity were assessed by a hyperinsulinemic euglycemic clamp (Human Actrapid 1.5 mU/min/kg) with an infusion of D-[6,6-2H2] glucose. The clamp was performed on day 0 and then on day 7 and day 14. During the insulin infusion, the mean total peripheral glucose uptake (area under the curve [AUC]) was 1,422 (SD, 1,253), 2,244 (SD, 1,392), and 4,500 (SD, 1,120) μmol/kg on days 0, 7, and 14, respectively. Significant changes occurred from day 0 to 14 (day 14–day 0: 3,078 [95% CI, 1,798 to 4,359]; P = .001) and day 7 to 14 (day 14–day 7: 2,256 [95% CI, 923 to 3,589]; P = .001). No significant difference in endogenous glucose production was demonstrated over time. Mean peripheral insulin sensitivity altered over time, increasing from 0.09 (SD, 0.09) μmol/kg/min/mU/L on day 0 to 0.24 (SD, 0.16) on day 7 and 0.5 (SD, 0.1) on day 14. Significant changes occurred between days 0, 7, and 14 (day 7–day 0: 0.15 [95% CI, 0.04 to 0.26], P = .006; day 14–day 0: 0.4 [95% CI, 0.28 to 0.5], P = .001; day 14–day 7: 0.2 [95% CI, 0.12 to 0.38], P = .001). This study demonstrates that in ALF, impaired peripheral uptake of glucose occurs, peripheral insulin sensitivity being restored at 2 weeks in subjects who survived.