Pharmacokinetics of continuous subcutaneous insulin infusion.

Lauritzen, T; Pramming, S; Deckert, T; Binder, C
Diabetologia; 1983 May;24(5):326-9. PMID: 6347780


One of the reasons for the variability of blood glucose regulation in Type 1 (insulin-dependent) diabetic patients is the huge variation in subcutaneous absorption of intermediate-acting insulin. We have investigated the variation in insulin absorption during continuous subcutaneous insulin infusion in eight such patients. The content of insulin in the subcutaneous tissue was measured using 125I-labelled insulin. The concentration of free serum insulin and blood glucose was followed from 1 h before and from 7 h after breakfast on two consecutive days. The amount of insulin absorbed during 24 h differed in all cases by less than 3% from the daily insulin dose given by the pumps. Mean insulin absorption rates and mean free insulin concentration showed peak values 30-90 min after meal bolus injections; this was sufficient to maintain near-normal blood glucose. Mean free serum insulin correlated strongly with disappearance of insulin from the subcutaneous tissue (r = 0.98). From the insulin absorption rates and free insulin concentrations during basal constant insulin infusion, the half-time of serum insulin was calculated as 6 min. Compared with the known large variability in the absorption of intermediate-acting insulin, continuous subcutaneous insulin infusion offers a precise and reproducible way of insulin administration resulting in post-prandial serum insulin peaks sufficient to maintain near-normal blood glucose levels. The half-time of serum insulin during subcutaneous infusion corresponds to values for intravenous infusion given in the literature, indicating that local degradation of insulin in subcutaneous tissue is of minor importance.