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In part 3 of the ODX HOMA2 Series we continue our exploration of the HOMA2 calculator by examining HOMA2-%S - an amazing way to gauge the cells sensitivity to insulin.
Insulin sensitivity is a term used to indicate the responsiveness of the peripheral tissue cells to insulin, and their resultant capacity to uptake glucose out of the bloodstream.
In patients with chronically elevated serum insulin levels, peripheral tissue cells will become less sensitive to insulin, and will therefore require more insulin to be secreted by the pancreatic beta cells in order to uptake the same amount of glucose and return serum glucose levels back to normal. This is also called insulin resistance.
In patients with insulin resistance, the pancreatic beta-cells respond by secreting increasing amounts of insulin, in an effort to return serum blood glucose levels back to normal. Chronic insulin resistance is typically seen as a component of pre-diabetes, and if left untreated, will result in a decrease in beta-cell function, eventually progressing to loss of the capacity to produce and secrete insulin, and the development of T2DM.
The HOMA 2 (Homeostasis Model Assessment) calculator is a tool used to express the degree of insulin sensitivity and insulin resistance in the patient from the following biomarkers: Fasting Blood Glucose, Fasting Insulin and/or C-Peptide.
The capacity of the peripheral tissue cells to respond to insulin appropriately is expressed by the HOMA2 calculator as HOMA2-%S, where the higher the HOMA2-%S value, the more responsive the cells are to insulin. Evidently, the HOMA2-%S measure is directly linked to the level of insulin resistance, as expressed by the HOMA2-IR measurement, and as such, assessment of HOMA2-%S without also assessing HOMA2-IR will not give a complete picture of metabolic state. As insulin resistance increases, HOMA2-%S would decrease, and HOMA2-IR would increase.
Is there a normal range for HOMA2 values?
According to the Diabetes Trials Unit, the creators of the HOMA2 calculator "There is no absolute value for HOMA indices. These will depend on the specific assays used for glucose, insulin and C-peptide. Because of this, there are no defined thresholds for ‘normal’ vs. ‘abnormal’ values. Please see the following document for further details."
That being said, there is evidence that HOMA2-%S will be 100% in normal insulin sensitivity.
Implications of low levels focusing on the "dysfunctions" as much as the pathology
Decreased HOMA2-%S is indicative of decreasing levels of insulin sensitivity by the peripheral tissue cells. This is commonly seen in pre-diabetes and Type 2 Diabetes. Loss of Insulin sensitivity and decreased HOMA2-%S measures are secondary to chronically elevated insulin levels, which is usually a result of elevated serum blood glucose levels. A decreased HOMA2-%S measure would be seen in conjunction with an elevated HOMA2-IR measure, and an elevated HOMA2-%B measurement in the pre-diabetes or perhaps early stages of Type 2 Diabetes, and would be seen in conjunction with a decreased HOMA2-%B measurement once the disease has progressed to the point of beta-cell failure.
Is HOMA2-%S included in the Optimal DX software?
Yes! Optimal DX now gives our users the ability to add the 3 HOMA2 calculations to their patient’s Functional Health Reports.
National Diabetes Statistics Report 2017. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/data/statistics-report/index.html.
National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion: Diabetes. [CDC Website]. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/publications/aag/diabetes.htm.
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Interpretation of HOMA Indices https://www.dtu.ox.ac.uk/homacalculator/HOMANoNormalRange.pdf