Mathematical modelling of the intravenous glucose tolerance test
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Several attempts at building a satisfactory model of the glucose-insulin system are recorded in the literature. The minimal model, which is the model currently mostly used in physiological research on the metabolism of glucose, was proposed in the early eighties for the interpretation of the glucose and insulin plasma concentrations following the intravenous glucose tolerance test. It is composed of two parts: the first consists of two differential equations and describes the glucose plasma concentration time-course treating insulin plasma concentration as a known forcing function; the second consists of a single equation and describes the time course of plasma insulin concentration treating glucose plasma concentration as a known forcing function. The two parts are to be separately estimated on the available data. In order to study glucose-insulin homeostasis as a single dynamical system, a unified model would be desirable. To this end, the simple coupling of the original two parts of the minimal model is not appropriate, since it can be shown that, for commonly observed combinations of parameter values, the coupled model would not admit an equilibrium and the concentration of active insulin in the “distant” compartment would be predicted to increase without bounds. For comparison, a simple delay-differential model is introduced, is demonstrated to be globally asymptotically stable around a unique equilibrium point corresponding to the pre-bolus conditions, and is shown to have positive and bounded solutions for all times. The results of fitting the delay-differential model to experimental data from ten healthy volunteers are also shown. It is concluded that a global unified model is both theoretically desirable and practically usable, and that any such model ought to undergo formal analysis to establish its appropriateness and to exclude conflicts with accepted physiological notions.
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