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Mathematical modeling in glucose metabolism and insulin secretion

Mari, Andrea

Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care: September 2002 - Volume 5 - Issue 5 - p 495-501
Assessment of nutritional status and analytical methods

Purpose of review Mathematical models in the study of glucose metabolism, insulin secretion and the insulin-glucose interactions have a longstanding tradition. The recent advances in this area are reviewed, with particular emphasis on the methods for the assessment of insulin sensitivity and insulin secretion. The available models are illustrated, and their common aspects and differences discussed.

Recent findings For the assessment of insulin sensitivity and β-cell function, several modeling methods have recently been developed. Models for insulin sensitivity provide insulin-sensitivity indices from simple clinical tests, or a rich multiple-parameter characterization of insulin sensitivity from more elaborate experiments. Models for β-cell function yield indices that quantify the ability of the β-cells to respond to glucose stimuli. Furthermore, models of the insulin-glucose interactions propose interesting explanations of some experimental observations such as insulin-glucose oscillations and the progression to type 2 diabetes.

Summary Mathematical models in this area continue to evolve toward more accurate and clinically applicable approaches, and should be considered as a useful resource for clinical investigators. Models also have a potentially important role for understanding the mechanisms governing the insulin-glucose regulation system.

Institute of Systems Science and Biomedical Engineering, National Research Council, Padova, Italy

Correspondence to Andrea Mari, LADSEB-CNR, corso Stati Uniti 4, 35127 Padova, Italy. Tel: +39 049 8295753; fax: +39 049 8295763; e-mail:

© 2002 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.