A semi-mechanistic model of the relationship between average glucose and HbA1c in healthy and diabetic subjects

J Pharmacokinet Pharmacodyn. 2013 Apr;40(2):129-42. doi: 10.1007/s10928-012-9289-6. Epub 2013 Jan 10.


HbA1c is the most commonly used biomarker for the adequacy of glycemic management in diabetic patients and a surrogate endpoint for anti-diabetic drug approval. In spite of an empirical description for the relationship between average glucose (AG) and HbA1c concentrations, obtained from the A1c-derived average glucose (ADAG) study by Nathan et al., a model for the non-steady-state relationship is still lacking. Using data from the ADAG study, we here develop such models that utilize literature information on (patho)physiological processes and assay characteristics. The model incorporates the red blood cell (RBC) aging description, and uses prior values of the glycosylation rate constant (KG), mean RBC life-span (LS) and mean RBC precursor LS obtained from the literature. Different hypothesis were tested to explain the observed non-proportional relationship between AG and HbA1c. Both an inverse dependence of LS on AG and a non-specificity of the National Glycohemoglobin Standardization Program assay used could well describe the data. Both explanations have mechanistic support and could be incorporated, alone or in combination, in models allowing prediction of the time-course of HbA1c changes associated with changes in AG from, for example dietary or therapeutic interventions, and vice versa, to infer changes in AG from observed changes in HbA1c. The selection between the alternative mechanistic models require gathering of new information.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Blood Glucose / metabolism*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus / metabolism*
  • Erythrocytes / metabolism
  • Glucose / metabolism*
  • Glycated Hemoglobin / metabolism*
  • Glycosylation
  • Humans


  • Blood Glucose
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A
  • hemoglobin A1c protein, human
  • Glucose