European Journal of Endocrinology

 Roles of increased glycaemic variability, GLP-1 and glucagon in hypoglycaemia after Roux-en-Y gastric bypass

Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB) surgery is currently the most effective treatment for diabetes and obesity. An increasingly recognized and highly disabling complication of RYGB is postprandial hypoglycaemia (PPH). The pathophysiology of PPH remains unclear with multiple mechanisms suggested including nesidioblastosis, altered insulin clearance and increased glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) secretion. Whilst many PPH patients respond to dietary modification, some have severely disabling symptoms. Multiple treatments are proposed, including dietary modification, GLP-1 antagonism, GLP-1 analogues and even surgical reversal, with none showing a more decided advantage over the others. A greater understanding of the pathophysiology of PPH could guide the development of new therapeutic strategies.


We studied a cohort of PPH patients at the Imperial Weight Center. We performed continuous glucose monitoring to characterize their altered glycaemic variability. We also performed a mixed meal test (MMT) and measured gut hormone concentrations.


We found increased glycaemic variability in our cohort of PPH patients, specifically a higher mean amplitude glucose excursion (MAGE) score of 4.9. We observed significantly greater and earlier increases in insulin, GLP-1 and glucagon in patients who had hypoglycaemia in response to an MMT (MMT Hypo) relative to those that did not (MMT Non-Hypo). No significant differences in oxyntomodulin, GIP or peptide YY secretion were seen between these two groups.


An early peak in GLP-1 and glucagon may together trigger an exaggerated insulinotropic response to eating and consequent hypoglycaemia in patients with PPH.