Insulin pharmacokinetics.

Binder, C; Lauritzen, T; Faber, O; Pramming, S
Diabetes care; 7(2):188-99. PMID: 6376015


Where adjustments of diet, physical activity, and dosage of insulin are well known to diabetologists and diabetic patients, present-day knowledge of factors of importance to the pharmacokinetics of insulin is frequently ignored. The pharmacokinetics of insulin comprise the absorption process, the distribution including binding to circulating insulin antibodies, if present, and to insulin receptors, and its ultimate degradation and excretion. The distribution and metabolism of absorbed insulin follow that of endogenous insulin. The distribution and metabolism cannot be actively changed, except in the case of circulating insulin antibodies, which in rare cases also may cause insulin resistance. The use of insulin preparation of low immunogeneity will avoid or reduce this course of variation in action. The absorption process, the detailed mechanisms of which are still unknown, is influenced by many variables where some can be controlled, thereby reducing the intrapatient variability in insulin absorption, which may reach 35%, causing a corresponding metabolic lability. Besides the known differences in timing among different preparations, the size of dose, the injected volume, and the insulin concentration are determinants of absorption role. Fortuitous injection technique contributes to variance, as do changes in blood flow of the injected tissue. This may be induced by changes in ambient temperature, exercise of injected limb, or local massage. Regional differences are also due to differences in blood flow. Serum insulin peaks may peak up to 1 h after injection of soluble insulin into the thigh versus into the abdominal wall. Local degradation of insulin seems of less importance but may, in rare cases, be the cause of high insulin "requirements." Available evidence is reviewed and the importance of implementing the consequences in the daily care of the insulin-treated patient is emphasized.