Absorption kinetics of insulin after subcutaneous administration

Eur J Pharm Sci. 2009 Jan 31;36(1):78-90. doi: 10.1016/j.ejps.2008.10.018. Epub 2008 Nov 5.


Many diabetic patients depend on regular and well-controlled administration of insulin to avoid unacceptable excursions in plasma glucose. A complicating factor is that the absorption of insulin shows a considerable variability, both between patients, and from administration to administration for the same patient. To understand the mechanisms that influence this variability we present a quantitative description of the absorption kinetics for both soluble insulin and insulin crystals. The concentration dependent distribution of insulin between different oligomers is first analysed and described. Next, the disappearance of soluble and crystalline insulin from subcutis is described and explained as a function of the administered dose, the insulin concentration and crystal specific parameters, but without diffusion. The effect of diffusion is then included, and the appearance of insulin in plasma following subcutaneous administration is simulated and discussed. Our results not only explain the observed variability, but they also explain how dose size, insulin concentration, insulin crystals etc. influence the absorption kinetics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adsorption
  • Animals
  • Crystallization
  • Diffusion
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / chemistry
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / pharmacokinetics*
  • Injections, Subcutaneous
  • Insulin / administration & dosage*
  • Insulin / chemistry
  • Insulin / pharmacokinetics*


  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Insulin