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From Los Alamos, New Mexico, USA:

I am a 40 year old male and was originally diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes 12 years ago, even though I was thin and athletic (a Master's swimmer). After oral medications failed I was given a glucose tolerance test and insulin levels were taken. The peak value for insulin was 27 (microunits /mml?). The endocrinologist said I was insulin deficient and that insulin would be needed. I have been doing much better since going on two 7-unit doses of Ultralente with 3-4 units of Lispro for carb counting.

My question is, what are the guidelines for "normal" insulin levels in the blood following an OGTT [oral glucose tolerance test], and is there a table that relates the insulin level to the actual degree of beta cell loss?


A peak value of 27 mu/ml for insulin certainly looks low; but I think you need to talk to your doctor about this because it would be important to look at all the values in the glucose tolerance test.

Nowadays, all clinical laboratories are required to give normal values with any result that they report and sometimes it is useful to know what a given laboratory's coefficient of variation is for any test so that you can judge what the chances are that any single result could have been normal or abnormal simply an the basis of laboratory variation. If the result is critical rather than just confirmatory it may be worth repeating the test despite the expense.

There is no way that you can correlate a given insulin level with a percentage loss of islet cells or islet cell function. The best you can do is an approximation. For example if over 90% of islet function is already lost, the timed insulin levels in an intravenous glucose tolerance test can be used as a rough estimate of how near a person is to complete loss of islet function.


Original posting 2 Mar 1998
Posted to Insulin and Diagnosis and Symptoms


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