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December 21, 2006


Question from India:

Insulin is either animal or human based, short-acting, medium-acting and long-acting. Apart from these, are there any other differences between different insulins on the market? Is there any difference between 40 u/ml or 100 u/ml in their effect giving property?


There are major differences between insulins that reflect how fast they work, how they are absorbed, whether or not they are derived from animal pancreas (usually pork, previously also from cows) or synthetic (regular human insulin or human analogs) and how such insulins are modified to prolong their effects (NPH with protamine; Lente and Ultralente with extra crystalline zinc; synthetic analogs — glargine, detemir — which are modified to act longer and smoother than the other basal insulins). How well the laboratories follow quality control procedures is also critically important since one wants insulin to behave similarly from day to day. Lastly, the more concentrated the insulin, the different the effects so that there are also minor differences in 40 units/cc versus 100 units/cc concentrations. Chapters in my own textbook (Pediatric and Adolescent Diabetes) as well as many other such textbooks and teaching manuals review these similarities and differences in great detail should you need more specific information.