Can glucose be monitored accurately at the site of subcutaneous insulin delivery?

W. Kenneth Ward, Jessica R. Castle, Peter G. Jacobs, Robert S. Cargill

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Because insulin promotes glucose uptake into adipocytes, it has been assumed that during measurement of glucose at the site of insulin delivery, the local glucose level would be much lower than systemic glucose. However, recent investigations challenge this notion. What explanations could account for a reduced local effect of insulin in the subcutaneous space? One explanation is that, in humans, the effect of insulin on adipocytes appears to be small. Another is that insulin monomers and dimers (from hexamer disassociation) might be absorbed into the circulation before they can increase glucose uptake locally. In addition, negative cooperativity of insulin action (a lower than expected effect of very high insulin concentrations)may play a contributing role. Other factors to be considered include dilution of interstitial fluid by the insulin vehicle and the possibility that some of the local decline in glucose might be due to the systemic effect of insulin. With regard to future research, redundant sensing units might be able to quantify the effects of proximity, leading to a compensatory algorithm. In summary, when measured at the site of insulin delivery, the decline in subcutaneous glucose level appears to be minimal, though the literature base is not large. Findings thus far support (1) the development of integrated devices that monitor glucose and deliver insulin and (2) the use of such devices to investigate the relationship between subcutaneous delivery of insulin and its local effects on glucose. A reduction in the number of percutaneous devices needed to manage diabetes would be welcome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)568-574
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Diabetes Science and Technology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2014


  • Adipocytes
  • Continuous glucose monitoring
  • Glucose uptake
  • Insulin delivery
  • Type 1 diabetes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomedical Engineering


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