Insulin lispro: its role in the treatment of diabetes mellitus

Ann Pharmacother. 1996 Nov;30(11):1263-71. doi: 10.1177/106002809603001111.


Objective: To introduce a rapid-acting human insulin analog, insulin lispro; to review its pharmacology, therapeutics, pharmacokinetics, dosing guidelines, adverse effects, and drug interactions; and to summarize the clinical trials of its efficacy and safety alone and in comparison with regular human insulin in the treatment of diabetes mellitus.

Data sources: A MEDLINE database search was completed to identify all relevant articles, including reviews; Eli Lilly and Co.; published articles and abstracts; and review chapters from medical textbooks.

Study selection: Due to the relatively few citations listed in MEDLINE (12 as of December 1995), most of the studies reported were found from abstracts summarizing the clinical action, adverse effects, or pharmacokinetics of insulin lispro in healthy volunteers or patients with diabetes mellitus. A few of the studies used patients with diabetes mellitus in multicenter, randomized, crossover trials of insulin lispro.

Data extraction: All clinical trials that were available prior to submission of this manuscript for publication, including unpublished reports, were reviewed.

Data synthesis: The human insulin analog, insulin lispro, which is biosynthetically made by inverting the amino acid sequence of human insulin at B-28 and B-29, is more effective than regular human insulin in improving postprandial glucose control. Subcutaneous injections of insulin lispro result in decreased blood glucose peaks following meals and a potential decreased risk of hypoglycemic episodes, including nighttime hypoglycemia in patients with type 1 diabetes. Insulin lispro in comparison with regular human insulin provides equal or slightly better blood glucose control. When compared with subcutaneous injections of regular human insulin, the peak serum insulin concentration of insulin lispro is three times higher, time to peak is 4.2 times faster, the absorption rate constant is double, and the duration of action is half as long. Insulin lispro is similar to regular human insulin with reference to dose, toxicity, adverse effects, drug interactions, and immunogenicity. When insulin lispro is mixed with human NPH (isophane) or Lente insulins, insulin lispro should be drawn into the syringe first, mixed with the long-acting insulin, and injected immediately after mixing. Patients using insulin lispro perceive an improvement in their well-being and quality of life due to flexible injection times and less frequent hypoglycemic reactions. Insulin lispro is believed to be suitable for patients using insulin infusion pumps.

Conclusions: Insulin lispro is equipotent to human insulin and has a much more rapid onset and shorter duration of action than human insulin does, which may reduce the risk of hypoglycemia. In addition, insulin lispro improves the dosing convenience for patients with diabetes and provides a more natural control of blood glucose concentrations. Insulin lispro is a useful new agent in the treatment of diabetes mellitus.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Blood Glucose / drug effects*
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / drug therapy*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / drug therapy*
  • Drug Interactions
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemia / chemically induced
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / adverse effects
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / chemistry
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / pharmacokinetics
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Insulin / adverse effects
  • Insulin / analogs & derivatives*
  • Insulin / chemistry
  • Insulin / pharmacokinetics
  • Insulin / pharmacology
  • Insulin Lispro


  • Blood Glucose
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Insulin
  • Insulin Lispro