Serum thyrotrophin has been measured before and after the intravenous administration of 200 micrograms of thyrotrophin-releasing hormone in 91 white subjects (33 stable diabetic patients and 58 healthy controls), none of whom had any clinical evidence of thyroid or pituitary dysfunction. Seven of the diabetic subjects failed to achieve a rise of serum thyrotrophin of greater than 2 mU/l above basal concentrations, as compared with only one of the control subjects (P = 0.006). The difference in response between diabetics and controls was confined to patients with Type II (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes: thus 5 of 13 Type II patients and 2 of 20 Type I (insulin-dependent) patients failed to show a normal response to thyrotrophin releasing hormone injection. No significant effect of glycaemic control on thyrotrophin responses was noted. These results suggest that Type II diabetes mellitus may be a cause of impaired thyrotrophin secretion in patients with no clinical evidence of pituitary disease. The mechanism for this impaired pituitary hormone release remains to be clarified.
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