A method for the determination of free, active insulin in the sera of insulin-treated diabetics is described. This involved radioimmunoassay after extraction of free insulin with polyethylene glycol. Recovery tests with cold insulin showed 73 per cent recovery of free insulin and no recovery of bound insulin.
The fasting free insulin levels were slightly lower in the patients than in normal persons; exceptions were some patients with complications expected to cause insulin resistance at the peripheral tissue level. Free insulin levels did not correlate with total insulin levels, antibody titers, insulin requirements or conditions of insulin treatment.
A very slight increase of insulin was observed after glucose loading in insulin-treated patients, but a marked increase of the free insulin level followed by an exaggerated increase in the total insulin level was observed in a patient with the insulin autoimmune syndrome.
The diurnal changes of the free insulin suggested the dynamic states of this fraction and its usefulness for determining control of diabetes with insulin.