Severe insulin resistance in long-term acute leukaemia survivors: lesson learned from a clinical case and review of the literature


  • Bilal Bashir Department of Diabetes, Endocrinology and Specialist Weight Management, Bolton NHS Foundation Trust, Bolton BL4 0JR UK
  • Moulinath Banerjee 1. Department of Diabetes, Endocrinology and Specialist Weight Management, Bolton NHS Foundation Trust, Bolton BL4 0JR UK 2. Centre for Endocrinology and Diabetes, Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences, The University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PT UK



insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, leukaemia, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, thiazolidinediones, metformin


With the improvement of haematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) and radiotherapy, the population of cancer survivors is increasing and therefore increasing the number of patients living with late metabolic complications. We describe a case of a childhood acute lymphoblastic leukaemia survivor who developed insulin resistance 10 years after HSCT and total body radiation requiring a high dose of insulin (>1,500 IU). Using insulin-sensitising agents metformin and thiazolidinediones improved the control and reduced the insulin requirement – eventually stopping insulin. We describe for the first time the phenomenon of reverse diurnal variation in insulin sensitivity based on the clinical picture alone, which has not previously been described in the literature. We have reviewed the plausible mechanisms of developing insulin resistance, reverse diurnal variation and the role of thiazolidinediones in reducing lipotoxicity and adipocyte differentiation resulting in improved insulin sensitivity in such cases.


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