Platelet and clotting abnormalities have been described in diabetes, but little is known about their relationship to daily stresses. In order to evaluate whether states of abnormal carbohydrate metabolism modify the hemostatic response to stress, 12 subjects with type I diabetes mellitus, 9 with type II, 7 with impaired glucose tolerance and 10 healthy controls were exposed to a cold pressor test. Plasma concentrations of beta-thromboglobulin (index of platelet activation) and of fibrinopeptide A (index of thrombin formation) were measured before and 15 minutes after forearm immersion in melting ice. Basal levels of both proteins were significantly elevated (p less than 0.02) in the combined group of patients with diabetes and impaired glucose tolerance. While in healthy controls cold exposure failed to modify plasma concentration of either protein, obvious changes occurred in the diabetic and impaired glucose tolerance groups. In the combined patients group, beta-thromboglobulin levels decreased from 1.37 +/- 0.44 nmol/l to 1.03 +/- 0.39 (mean +/- SD, p less than 0.01), after the cold test, possibly in consequence of enhanced vascular permeability; while fibrinopeptide A levels increased from 1.52 +/- 1.03 nmol/l to 3.45 +/- 4.19 (p less than 0.02). The degree and pattern of abnormalities observed in basal as well as stimulated levels of fibrinopeptide A differed somewhat among the three groups of patients. These studies indicate that, in the basal state, patients with diabetes or simple carbohydrate intolerance are more susceptible than controls to platelet activation and that after stress thrombin formation can occur although some variability exists among and within groups of patients. The consequences of such increased thrombotic activity may have a bearing on the pathogenesis of large vessel disease, a complication common to diabetes and impaired glucose tolerance.
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