The osmotic link between hypoglycaemia and hypovolaemia

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Objective . Hypoglycaemia is regularly accompanied by hypovolaemia. To suggest a mechanism for this phenomenon, we reviewed data from eight studies conducted by our group and examined the circumstances under which rebound hypoglycaemia develops after intravenous infusion of glucose solutions. Material and methods. Forty healthy volunteers and 40 patients received a total of 122 infusions of glucose solutions at different rates, volumes and concentrations. Plasma glucose and the haemodilution were measured repeatedly during and for at least 2 h after the infusions ended. Glucose kinetics was calculated using a one-compartment turnover model and the plasma volume expansion was estimated from changes in Hb. Results . A strong linear correlation was found between the glucose level and the plasma volume expansion in all series of experiments (p<0.001). After infusion, there was a risk of hypoglycaemia and hypovolaemia developing in healthy volunteers with a high glucose clearance and when infusing glucose solutions of higher concentrations than 2.5 %. Few and mild hypoglycaemic events occurred in patients with insulin resistance, such as in diabetics and in those undergoing surgery. The immediate linear relationship between hypoglycaemia and hypovolaemia suggests an osmotic link between the two parameters. More specifically, infused fluid accompanies glucose during uptake into the cells, while volume expansion by the same fluid has already elicited an effective diuretic response. Conclusion . Hypovolaemia is a consequence of hypoglycaemia after intravenous infusion of glucose solution and is caused by the osmotic translocation of fluid from the extracellular to the intracellular fluid space that occurs despite effective renal elimination.


  • F. Sjostrand
  • D Berndtson
  • J. Olsson
  • P. Strandberg
  • R. G. Hahn
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Surgery
  • Cardiac and Cardiovascular Systems


  • hypovolaemia, hemodilution, diabetes fluids, glucose metabolism, hypoglycaemia, water
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-122
JournalScandinavian Journal of Clinical & Laboratory Investigation
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Publication categoryResearch