Glucose intolerance, overt diabetes mellitus. and insulin resistance are characteristic features of patients with cirrhosis. Insulin secretion, although increased in absolute terms, is insufficient to offset the presence of insulin resistance. The defect in insulin-mediated glucose disposal involves peripheral tissues, primarily muscle, and most likely reflects a disturbance in glycogen synthesis Hepatic glucose production is normally sensitive to insulin; at present, it is unknown whether hepatic glucose uptake is impaired in cirrhosis. One of the more likely candidates responsible for the insulin-resistant state is insulin itself. The hyperinsulinemia results from three abnormalities: dimimshed hepatic extraction, portosystemic/intrahepatic shunting, and enhanced insulin secretion.
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