Is biochemical hypoglycemia necessary during an insulin tolerance test?

ABSTRACT Objective The insulin tolerance test (ITT) has been accepted as the gold standard test for assessing the integrity of the growth hormone (GH) – insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) axis and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. The goal of the test is to achieve clinical and biochemical hypoglycemia at a blood glucose level ≤ 40 mg/dL to effectively and correctly assess the HPA and GH-IGF-1 axes. In this study, the GH and cortisol responses of patients who achieved and failed to achieve biochemical hypoglycemia during an ITT were compared. Subjects and methods One hundred thirty-five patients with pituitary disorders were included in the study. Samples for blood glucose levels were obtained after clear symptoms of clinical hypoglycemia developed. The patients were enrolled in the hypoglycemic and nonhypoglycemic groups according to whether their plasma glucose level ≤ 40 mg/dL or > 40 mg/dL during an ITT, and the groups were compared in terms of their GH and cortisol responses. Results The mean age, body mass index and waist circumference of the two patient groups were found to be similar. The mean blood glucose level was significantly lower in the hypoglycemic group than in the nonhypoglycemic group (19.3 and 52.0 mg/dL, respectively). When the two groups were compared in terms of peak cortisol and GH responses, no statistically significant differences were found. Conclusion The data presented suggest that clinically symptomatic hypoglycemia is as effective as biochemically confirmed hypoglycemia during an ITT. Arch Endocrinol Metab. 2020;64(1):82-8