Interstitial fluid, i.e. the liquid present in the outermost layer of living cells of the skin between the Stratum corneum and the Stratum spinosum, was analyzed by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy and by infrared spectroscopy using pulsed quantum cascade infrared lasers with photoacoustic detection. IR spectra of simulated interstitial fluid samples and of real samples from volunteers in the 850-1800cm(-1) range revealed that the major components of interstitial fluid are albumin and glucose within the physiological range, with only traces of sodium lactate if at all. The IR absorbance of glucose in interstitial fluid in vivo was probed in healthy volunteers using a setup with quantum cascade lasers and photoacoustic detection previously described. A variation of blood glucose between approx. 80mg/dl and 250mg/dl in the volunteers was obtained using the standard oral glucose tolerance test (OGT). At two IR wavelengths, 1054cm(-1) and 1084cm(-1), a reasonable correlation between the photoacoustic signal from the skin and the blood glucose value as determined by conventional glucose test sticks using blood from the finger tip was obtained. The infrared photoacoustic glucose signal (PAGS) may serve as the key for a non-invasive glucose measurement, since the glucose content in interstitial fluid closely follows blood glucose in the time course and in the level (a delay of some minutes and a level of approx. 80-90% of the glucose level in blood). Interstitial fluid is present in skin layers at a depth of only 15-50μm and is thus within the reach of mid-IR energy in an absorbance measurement. A non-invasive glucose measurement for diabetes patients based on mid-infrared quantum cascade lasers and photoacoustic detection could replace the conventional measurement using enzymatic test stripes and a drop of blood from the finger tip, thus reducing pain and being a cost-efficient alternative for millions of diabetes patients.
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