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01.12.2017 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2017 Open Access

BMC Infectious Diseases 1/2017

The association between tuberculosis and the development of insulin resistance in adults with pulmonary tuberculosis in the Western sub-district of the Cape Metropole region, South Africa: a combined cross-sectional, cohort study

BMC Infectious Diseases > Ausgabe 1/2017
Lauren Philips, Janicke Visser, Daan Nel, Renée Blaauw



The existence of a bi-directional relationship between tuberculosis (TB) and insulin resistance (IR)/diabetes has been alluded to in literature. Although diabetes has been linked to increased tuberculosis risk, the relationship between tuberculosis as a causative factor for IR remains unclear. The study aimed to determine if an association existed between tuberculosis and IR development in adults with newly diagnosed pulmonary tuberculosis at baseline. It was additionally aimed to document changes in IR status during TB follow-up periods.


This cross-sectional study evaluated ambulatory participants at baseline for IR prevalence via anthropometry, biochemistry and diagnostic IR tests [homeostasis model assessment-IR (HOMA-IR) and quantitative insulin sensitivity check index (QUICKI)]. A prospective cohort sub-section study was additionally performed on approximately half of the baseline study population, who were followed-up at two and five months whilst on tuberculosis treatment. Summary statistics, correlation co-efficients and appropriate analysis of variance were used to describe and analyse data. Participants were excluded if they presented with other forms of tuberculosis, were HIV-positive, obese or had any pre-disposing IR conditions such as diabetes or metabolic syndrome.


Fifty-nine participants were included from August 2013 until December 2014 (33.95 ± 12.02 years old; 81.4% male). IR prevalence was 25.4% at baseline, determined by a calculated HOMA-IR cut-off point of 2.477. Patients with IR were younger (p = 0.04). Although the difference between IR levels in participants between baseline and follow-up was not significant, a decrease was observed over time. The majority of participants (61.0%) presented with a normal BMI at baseline. Mean baseline values of fasting glucose were within normal ranges (4.82 ± 0.80 mmol/L), whereas increased mean CRP levels (60.18 ± 50.92 mg/L) and decreased mean HDL-cholesterol levels (males: 0.94 ± 0.88 mmol/L; females: 1.14 ± 0.88 mmol/L) were found.


The study found an association between tuberculosis and IR development in newly diagnosed pulmonary tuberculosis patients. Although not significant, IR levels decreased over time, which could be indicative of a clinical improvement. A high prevalence of IR amongst young tuberculosis patients therefore highlights the need for early identification in order to facilitate a reversal of IR and prevent possible IR-related complications.
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