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Recurrent spontaneous hypoglycaemia causes loss of neurogenic and neuroglycopaenic signs in infants with congenital hyperinsulinism

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Objective  Hypoglycaemia‐associated autonomic failure (HAAF) with impaired neurogenic and neuroglycopaenic responses occurs in adults following recent, repeated hypoglycaemia. We aimed to evaluate whether HAAF also occurs in patients with infant‐onset congenital hyperinsulinism (CHI).

Design, patients  A controlled fast was performed in (i) seven CHI infants with initial symptomatic hypoglycaemia and three recent episodes of spontaneous recurrent hypoglycaemia each lasting <5 min and in (ii) seven infants with idiopathic ketotic hypoglycaemia for control.

Measurements  At the time of hypoglycaemia (blood glucose <3 mmol/l or clinical signs), blood was drawn for serum insulin, cortisol, glucagon, adrenalin and nor‐adrenalin. Signs of hypoglycaemia were documented. In CHI patients, the ABCC8 and KCNJ11 genes were analysed by denaturing high performance liquid chromatography (DHPLC) and/or direct bidirectional sequencing.

Results  Two CHI patients had a paternal ABCC8 mutation, five had no mutations. When repeated hypoglycaemia was provoked, all CHI patients exhibited a complete loss of clinical signs of hypoglycaemia, along with a global blunting of the counter‐regulatory hormones cortisol, glucagon, growth hormone, adrenalin and nor‐adrenalin responses (median values 256 nmol/l, 23 pmol/l, 5·6 mU/l, 390 pmol/l and 2·9 nmol/l, respectively), irrespective of mutational status. In the controls, hypoglycaemia was always clinically overt with normal counter‐regulatory cortisol, glucagon, adrenalin and nor‐adrenalin responses (530 nmol/l, 60, 920 pmol/l and 4·0 nmol/l, respectively).

Conclusion  Recurrent hyperinsulinaemic hypoglycaemia even of short duration blunts the autonomic, neuroglycopaenic and glucose counter‐regulatory hormonal responses in patients with infant‐onset CHI resulting in clinically silent hypoglycaemia. Tight, or continuous, glucose monitoring is therefore recommended, especially in conservatively treated patients.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: H.C. Andersen Children’s Hospital 2: Department of Clinical Genetics, Odense University Hospital, Odense, Denmark

Publication date: April 1, 2012

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