Pharmaceutical Research

, Volume 9, Issue 6, pp 715–726

Chemical Stability of Insulin. 1. Hydrolytic Degradation During Storage of Pharmaceutical Preparations


  • Jens Brange
    • Novo Research Institute
  • Liselotte Langkj\sgmaelig;r
    • Novo Research Institute
  • Svend Havelund
    • Novo Research Institute
  • Aage Vølund
    • Novo Research Institute

DOI: 10.1023/A:1015835017916

Cite this article as:
Brange, J., Langkj\sgmaelig;r, L., Havelund, S. et al. Pharm Res (1992) 9: 715. doi:10.1023/A:1015835017916


Hydrolysis of insulin has been studied during storage of various preparations at different temperatures. Insulin deteriorates rapidly in acid solutions due to extensive deamidation at residue AsnA21. In neutral formulations deamidation takes place at residue AsnB3 at a substantially reduced rate under formation of a mixture of isoAsp and Asp derivatives. The rate of hydrolysis at B3 is independent of the strength of the preparation, and in most cases the species of insulin, but varies with storage temperature and formulation. Total transformation at B3 is considerably reduced when insulin is in the crystalline as compared to the amorphous or soluble state, indicating that formation of the rate-limiting cyclic imide decreases when the flexibility of the tertiary structure is reduced. Neutral solutions containing phenol showed reduced deamidation probably because of a stabilizing effect of phenol on the tertiary structure (α-helix formation) around the deamidating residue, resulting in a reduced probability for formation of the intermediate imide. The ratio of isoAsp/Asp derivative was independent of time and temperature, suggesting a pathway involving only intermediate imide formation, without any direct side-chain hydrolysis. However, increasing formation of Asp relative to isoAsp derivative was observed with decreasing flexibility of the insulin three-dimensional structure in the formulation. In certain crystalline suspensions a cleavage of the peptide bond A8–A9 was observed. Formation of this split product is species dependent: bovine > porcine > human insulin. The hydrolytic cleavage of the peptide backbone takes place only in preparations containing rhombohedral crystals in addition to free zinc ions.

insulinchemical stabilitydeamidationhydrolysisautocatalysischain cleavage

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1992