The Effects of Bariatric Surgery on Islet Function, Insulin Secretion, and Glucose Control

Jonathan D Douros, Jenny Tong, David A D'Alessio
Endocrine Reviews 2019 October 1, 40 (5): 1394-1423
Although bariatric surgery was developed primarily to treat morbid obesity, evidence from the earliest clinical observations to the most recent clinical trials consistently demonstrates that these procedures have substantial effects on glucose metabolism. A large base of research indicates that bariatric surgeries such as Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB), vertical sleeve gastrectomy (VSG), and biliopancreatic diversion (BPD) improve diabetes in most patients, with effects frequently evident prior to substantial weight reduction. There is now unequivocal evidence from randomized controlled trials that the efficacy of surgery is superior to intensive life-style/medical management. Despite advances in the clinical understanding and application of bariatric surgery, there remains only limited knowledge of the mechanisms by which these procedures confer such large changes to metabolic physiology. The improvement of insulin sensitivity that occurs with weight loss (e.g., the result of diet, illness, physical training) also accompanies bariatric surgery. However, there is evidence to support specific effects of surgery on insulin clearance, hepatic glucose production, and islet function. Understanding the mechanisms by which surgery affects these parameters of glucose regulation has the potential to identify new targets for therapeutic discovery. Studies to distinguish among bariatric surgeries on key parameters of glucose metabolism are limited but would be of considerable value to assist clinicians in selecting specific procedures and investigators in delineating the resulting physiology. This review is based on literature related to factors governing glucose metabolism and insulin secretion after the commonly used RYGB and VSG, and the less frequently used BPD and adjustable gastric banding.

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