Purpose: Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning may damage the pancreas, but the effects of CO poisoning on the development of diabetes and on existing diabetes remain unclear. We conducted a study incorporating data from epidemiologic analyses and animal experiments to clarify these issues. Methods: Using the National Health Insurance Database of Taiwan, we identified CO poisoning patients diagnosed between 2002 and 2016 (CO poisoning cohort) together with references without CO poisoning who were matched by age, sex, and index date at a 1:3 ratio. We followed participants until 2017 and compared the risks of diabetes and hyperglycemic crisis between two cohorts using Cox proportional hazards regressions. In addition, a rat model was used to assess glucose and insulin levels in blood as well as pathological changes in the pancreas and hypothalamus following CO poisoning. Results: Among participants without diabetes history, 29,141 in the CO poisoning cohort had a higher risk for developing diabetes than the 87,423 in the comparison cohort after adjusting for potential confounders (adjusted hazard ratio [AHR]=1.23; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.18–1.28). Among participants with diabetes history, 2302 in the CO poisoning cohort had a higher risk for developing hyperglycemic crisis than the 6906 in participants without CO poisoning (AHR = 2.12; 95% CI: 1.52–2.96). In the rat model, CO poisoning led to increased glucose and decreased insulin in blood and damages to pancreas and hypothalamus. Conclusion: Our epidemiological study revealed that CO poisoning increased the risks of diabetes and hyperglycemic crisis, which might be attributable to damages in the pancreas and hypothalamus as shown in the animal experiments.
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