Increased disorderliness of basal insulin release, attenuated insulin secretory burst mass, and reduced ultradian rhythmicity of insulin secretion in older individuals

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1997 Dec;82(12):4088-93. doi: 10.1210/jcem.82.12.4457.


Insulin is secreted in a pulsatile fashion. Rapid pulses are considered to be important for inhibiting hepatic glucose output, and ultradian pulses for stimulating peripheral glucose disposal. Aging is characterized by a progressive impairment in carbohydrate tolerance. We undertook the current studies to determine whether alterations in pulsatile insulin release accompany the age-related changes in carbohydrate metabolism. Healthy young (n = 8; body mass index, 21 +/- 1 kg/m2; age, 24 +/- 1 yr) and old (n = 9; body mass index, 24 +/- 1 kg/m2; age, 77 +/- 2 yr) volunteers underwent two studies. In the first study, insulin was sampled every 1 min for 150 min, and pulse analysis was conducted using a recently validated multiparameter deconvolution technique. In the second study, insulin was sampled every 10 min for 600 min, and insulin release was evaluated by Cluster analysis. In the 150-min studies, insulin secretory burst mass (P < 0.05) and amplitude (P < 0.01) were reduced in the elderly. In addition, approximate entropy, a measure of irregularity or disorderliness of insulin release, was increased in the aged (P < 0.01). In the 600-min studies, interpulse interval was greater in the aged (P < 0.05), and burst number was less (P < 0.05). We conclude that normal aging is characterized by more disorderly insulin release, a reduction in the amplitude and mass of rapid insulin pulses, and a decreased frequency of ultradian pulses. Whether these alterations in insulin pulsatility contribute directly to the age-related changes in carbohydrate metabolism will require further study.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Activity Cycles / physiology*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aging / metabolism*
  • Blood Glucose / analysis
  • Body Composition
  • Body Constitution
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Female
  • Glucose Clamp Technique
  • Humans
  • Insulin / blood
  • Insulin / metabolism*
  • Insulin Secretion
  • Male
  • Osmolar Concentration


  • Blood Glucose
  • Insulin