Immunogenicity of highly purified bovine insulin: a comparison with conventional bovine and highly purified human insulins

Diabetologia. 1985 Sep;28(9):667-70. doi: 10.1007/BF00291973.


Twenty-six Type 1 diabetic patients previously treated for 10-20 months with twice daily conventional bovine isophane insulin (containing at least 1000 ppm proinsulin) were changed to highly purified (less than 1 ppm proinsulin) bovine isophane for 6 months (Switch group). Insulin antibody levels fell significantly from a geometric mean of 14.9 to 9.1 micrograms/l. Thirty-two patients with newly diagnosed Type 1 diabetes were treated with the same highly purified bovine isophane insulin twice daily for 6 months (Starter group). Their insulin antibody levels rose from a geometric mean of 1.9 to 8.2 micrograms/l in contrast to values of 1.4 rising to 16.3 micrograms/l in an age and sex matched historical control group treated from diagnosis only with twice daily conventional bovine isophane insulin. Lipoatrophy at injection sites developed in three (9%) in the Starter group treated with highly purified bovine isophane compared to 7 (22%) of those on conventional bovine isophane. Insulin dose and diabetic control did not differ between the groups. Starter and Switch groups were subsequently treated with semi-synthetic human isophane insulin for 6 months during which insulin antibody levels fell significantly from a geometric mean of 8.5 to 4.4 micrograms/l (p less than 0.001). We conclude that bovine insulin purified to less than 1 ppm proinsulin is significantly less immunogenic than its conventional proinsulin contaminated counterpart but even at this level of purity is still more immunogenic than human insulin of equivalent purity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigen-Antibody Complex
  • Cattle
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / drug therapy
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / immunology*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Insulin / administration & dosage
  • Insulin / therapeutic use*
  • Insulin Antibodies / analysis*
  • Proinsulin / administration & dosage
  • Proinsulin / immunology


  • Antigen-Antibody Complex
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Insulin
  • Insulin Antibodies
  • Proinsulin