A novel natural tracer method to measure complex carbohydrate metabolism

Rita Basu, Michele Schiavon, Xuan Mai Petterson, Ling Hinshaw, Michael Slama, Rickey Carter, Chiara Dalla Man, Claudio Cobelli, Ananda Basu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


While the triple tracer isotope dilution method has enabled accurate estimation of carbohydrate turnover after a mixed meal, use of the simple carbohydrate glucose as the carbohydrate source limits its translational applicability to everyday meals that typically contain complex carbohydrates. Hence, utilizing the natural enrichment of [13C]polysaccharide in commercially available grains, we devised a novel tracer method to measure postprandial complex carbohydrate turnover and indices of insulin action and β-cell function and compared the parameters to those obtained after a simple carbohydrate containing mixed meal. We studied healthy volunteers after either rice (n = 8) or sorghum (n = 8) and glucose (n = 16) containing mixed meals and modified the triple tracer technique to calculate carbohydrate turnover. All meals were matched for calories and macronutrient composition. Rates of meal glucose appearance (2,658 ± 736 vs. 4,487 ± 909 μM kg-1 2 h-1), endogenous glucose production (-835 ± 283 vs. -1,123 ± 323 μM kg-1 2 h-1) and glucose disappearance (1,829 ± 807 vs. 3,606 ± 839 μM kg-1 2 h-1) differed (P < 0.01) between complex and simple carbohydrate containing meals, respectively. Interestingly, there were significant increase in indices of insulin sensitivity (32.5 ± 3.5 vs. 25.6 ± 3.2 10-5 (dl kg-1 min-2)/pM, P < 0.006) and β-cell responsivity (disposition index: 1,817 ± 234 vs. 1,236 ± 159 10-14 (dl kg-1 min-2)/pM, P < 0.005) with complex than simple carbohydrate meals. We present a novel triple tracer approach to estimate postprandial turnover of complex carbohydrate containing mixed meals. We also report higher insulin sensitivity and β-cell responsivity with complex than with simple carbohydrates in mixed meals of identical calorie and macronutrient compositions in healthy adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E483-E493
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2019


  • Complex carbohydrates
  • Endogenous glucose production
  • Glucose metabolism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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