Inhaled Formoterol Diminishes Insulin-Induced Hypoglycemia in Type 1 Diabetes

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OBJECTIVEHypoglycemia is one of the major factors limiting implementation of tight glycemic control in patients with type 1 diabetes and is associated with increased morbidity and mortality during intensive insulin treatment. β-2 Adrenergic receptor (AR) agonists have been reported to diminish nocturnal hypoglycemia; however, whether long-acting inhaled β-2 AR agonists could potentially be used to treat or prevent hypoglycemia has not been established.RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODSSeven patients with type 1 diabetes and seven healthy control subjects received inhaled formoterol (48 μg), a highly specific β-2 AR agonist, or a placebo during a hyperinsulinemic-hypoglycemic clamp study to evaluate its capacity to antagonize the effect of insulin. In a second set of studies, five subjects with type 1 diabetes received inhaled formoterol to assess its effect as a preventive therapy for insulin-induced hypoglycemia.RESULTSDuring a hyperinsulinemic-hypoglycemic clamp, compared with placebo, inhaled formoterol decreased the glucose infusion rate required to maintain plasma glucose at a target level by 45–50% (P < 0.05). There was no significant effect on glucagon, epinephrine, cortisol, or growth hormone release (P = NS). Furthermore, in volunteers with type 1 diabetes 1 h after increasing basal insulin delivery twofold, glucose levels dropped to 58 ± 5 mg/dL, whereas hypoglycemia was prevented by inhaled formoterol (P < 0.001).CONCLUSIONSInhalation of the β-2 AR–specific agonist formoterol may be useful in the prevention or treatment of acute hypoglycemia and thus may help patients with type 1 diabetes achieve optimal glucose control more safely.

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