How pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic principles pave the way for optimal basal insulin therapy in type 2 diabetes

Int J Clin Pract. 2010 Sep;64(10):1415-24. doi: 10.1111/j.1742-1241.2010.02470.x. Epub 2010 Jul 5.


This pedagogical review illustrates the differences between pharmacokinetic (PK) and pharmacodynamic (PD) measures, using insulin therapy as the primary example. The main conclusion is that PD parameters are of greater clinical significance for insulin therapy than PK parameters. The glucose-clamp technique, the optimal method for determining insulin PD, is explained so that the reader can understand the important studies in the literature. Key glucose-clamp studies that compare two basal insulin analogues - insulin glargine and insulin detemir - to Neutral Protamine Hagedorn insulin and to each other are then presented. The review further explains how PD parameters have been translated into useful clinical concepts and simple titration algorithms for everyday clinical practice. Finally, the necessity of overcoming patient and/or physician barriers to insulin therapy and providing continuing education and training is emphasised.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / drug therapy*
  • Glucose Clamp Technique
  • Half-Life
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / pharmacokinetics
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Insulin / physiology
  • Insulin Detemir
  • Insulin Glargine
  • Insulin Secretion
  • Insulin, Isophane / pharmacokinetics
  • Insulin, Isophane / pharmacology
  • Insulin, Long-Acting / pharmacokinetics
  • Insulin, Long-Acting / pharmacology*


  • Blood Glucose
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Insulin
  • Insulin, Long-Acting
  • Insulin Glargine
  • Insulin Detemir
  • Insulin, Isophane