Glucose is not detectable in airways secretions of normoglycaemic volunteers, but is present at 1–9 mmol·l-1 in airways secretions from people with hyperglycaemia. These observations suggest the existence of a blood glucose threshold at which glucose appears in airways secretions, similar to that seen in renal and salivary epithelia. In the present study we determined the blood glucose threshold at which glucose appears in nasal secretions. Blood glucose concentrations were raised in healthy human volunteers by 20% dextrose intravenous infusion or 75 g oral glucose load. Nasal glucose concentrations were measured using modified glucose oxidase sticks as blood glucose concentrations were raised. Glucose appeared rapidly in nasal secretions once blood glucose was clamped at approx. 12 mmol·l-1 (n=6). On removal of the clamp, nasal glucose fell to baseline levels in parallel with blood glucose concentrations. An airway glucose threshold of 6.7–9.7 mmol·l-1 was identified (n=12). In six subjects with normal glucose tolerance, blood glucose concentrations rose above the airways threshold and nasal glucose became detectable following an oral glucose load. The presence of an airway glucose threshold suggests that active glucose transport by airway epithelial cells normally maintains low glucose concentrations in airways secretions. Blood glucose exceeds the airway threshold after a glucose load even in people with normal glucose tolerance, so it is likely that people with diabetes or hyperglycaemia spend a significant proportion of each day with glucose in their airways secretions.

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