The Dawn Phenominon & The Symogi Effect, By Mr. Metabolism

| Feb 1, 1993

Dear Mr. Metabolism,

Please explain:

  1. The dawn phenominon
  2. The Symogi effect
  3. Why doesn't the diabetic use his/her stored liver glycogen when having low blood sugar? Is it all used up? Does a diabetic person store less glycogen? I have been aerobically exercising for 20 years and have a good muscle mass. About how much liver glycogen do we store?

Gudo Hallstone
Fresno, CA

The dawn effect is an increase in insulin resistance (or decrease in insulin sensitivity) caused by hormones released about two hours before you wake. These hormones are under the control of the pituitary gland, and thus the brain. The dawn effect is influenced by testosterone and tends to be more significant in men. It is highly variable from person to person. Your overnight insulin is taken to counter the dawn effect, and on average, diabetics take 20% of their insulin overnight. Mr. Metabolism requires more than 20% of his insulin at night.

The Symogi effect is the tendency of the blood sugar to rise as a result of low blood sugar. Low blood sugar can trigger release of hormones such as glucagon that raise blood sugar.

The liver would normally respond to declining blood sugar by increasing glycogenolysis, as I discussed above. But insulin inhibits glycogenolysis, and as you may have observed, low blood sugar occurs most often near an insulin peak.

Diabetics store slightly less liver glycogen than non-diabetics, but the difference is not thought to be very important. In well fed people, the carbohydrate stores are:

Muscle glycogen...1,700 calories

Liver glycogen..........500 calories

Plasma glucose...........12 calories

Mr. Metabolism (S. Robert King) has a masters degree from Harvard in Biochemistry and is a former biotechnology analyst with Montgomery Securities. Besides having type I diabetes, Mr. Metabolism is currently V.P., Technology for Metabolex, a biotechnology research firm in Hayward, CA.

If you have questions regarding diabetes research, write to Mr. Metabolism at 3715 Balboa St., San Francisco, CA 94121, or call our voice comment line at (415) 750-1958.

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Feb 1, 1993

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