Insulin compatibility with polymer materials used in external pump infusion systems

Diabet Med. 1988 Apr;5(3):243-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1464-5491.1988.tb00977.x.


In a study designed to mimic actual user conditions for external insulin pump infusion, the insulin quality after passage through the infusion set was assessed by various analytical methods, including high performance liquid chromatography. The two infusion sets tested consisted of, firstly, a polyvinylchloride/rubber syringe and a polyvinylchloride catheter sterilized by gamma irradiation and, secondly, a polyethylene/polypropylene syringe connected to a polyethylene catheter and sterilized by ethylene oxide. The insulin solution delivered through the PVC infusion set showed a reduction of preservative to less than 30% of the initial content and increased formation of chemical transformation products of insulin varying from twice the reference level during the first day to more than three times on the third day. By contrast, the polyethylene/polypropylene infusion system showed only a minor decrease in preservative content and no increase in chemical transformation. These effects were observed irrespective of the brand of insulin and were not affected by increase of the zinc content of the insulin solution. Investigation of the influence of the sterilization methods performed on polyvinylchloride and polyethylene catheters revealed that gamma irradiated polyvinylchloride catheters were markedly harmful to the insulin solution, whereas ethylene oxide sterilization did not influence the chemical stability of insulin.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Catheters, Indwelling
  • Humans
  • Insulin / administration & dosage
  • Insulin Infusion Systems*
  • Plastics
  • Rubber
  • Swine


  • Insulin
  • Plastics
  • Rubber