Interstitial fluid glucose dynamics during insulin-induced hypoglycaemia

Diabetologia. 2005 Sep;48(9):1833-40. doi: 10.1007/s00125-005-1852-x. Epub 2005 Jul 7.


Aims/hypothesis: Glucose sensors often measure s.c. interstitial fluid (ISF) glucose rather than blood or plasma glucose. Putative differences between plasma and ISF glucose include a protracted delay during the recovery from hypoglycaemia and an increased gradient during hyperinsulinaemia. These have often been investigated using sensor systems that have delays due to signal smoothing, or require long equilibration times. The aim of the present study was to define these relationships during hypoglycaemia in a well-equilibrated system with no smoothing.

Methods: Hypoglycaemia was induced by i.v. insulin infusion (360 pmol.m(-2).min(-1)) in ten non-diabetic subjects. Glucose was sequentially clamped at approximately 5, 4.2 and 3.1 mmol/l and allowed to return to normoglycaemia. Subjects wore two s.c. glucose sensors (Medtronic MiniMed, Northridge, CA, USA) that had been inserted for more than 12 h. A two-compartment model was used to quantify the delay and gradient.

Results: The delay during the fall in plasma glucose was not different from the delay during recovery (8.3+/-0.67 vs 6.3+/-1.1 min; p=0.27) and no differences were observed in the ratio of sensor current to plasma glucose at basal insulin (2.7+/-0.25 nA.mmol(-1).l) compared with any of the hyperinsulinaemic clamp phases (2.8+/-0.18, 2.7+/-0.021, 2.9+/-0.21; p=NS). The ratio was significantly elevated following recovery to normoglycaemia (3.1+/-0.2 nA.mmol(-1).l; p<0.001).

Conclusions/interpretation: The elevated ratio suggests that the plasma to ISF glucose gradient was decreased following hypoglycaemia, possibly due to increased skin blood flow. Recovery from hypoglycaemia is not accompanied by a protracted delay and insulin does not increase the plasma to s.c. ISF glucose gradient.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Body Mass Index
  • Calibration
  • Extracellular Fluid / metabolism*
  • Glucose / metabolism*
  • Glucose Clamp Technique
  • Humans
  • Hyperinsulinism
  • Hypoglycemia / chemically induced
  • Hypoglycemia / metabolism*
  • Insulin / pharmacology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Biological


  • Blood Glucose
  • Insulin
  • Glucose