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Minimal and Maximal Models to Quantitate Glucose Metabolism: Tools to Measure, to Simulate and to Run in Silico Clinical Trials.

  • Cobelli, Claudio1
  • Dalla Man, Chiara2
  • 1 Department of Woman and Child's Health University of Padova, Padova, Italy. , (Italy)
  • 2 Department of Information Engineering, University of Padova, Padova, Italy. , (Italy)
Published Article
Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology
SAGE Publications
Publication Date
Sep 01, 2022
DOI: 10.1177/19322968211015268
PMID: 34032128


Several models have been proposed to describe the glucose system at whole-body, organ/tissue and cellular level, designed to measure non-accessible parameters (minimal models), to simulate system behavior and run in silico clinical trials (maximal models). Here, we will review the authors' work, by putting it into a concise historical background. We will discuss first the parametric portrait provided by the oral minimal models-building on the classical intravenous glucose tolerance test minimal models-to measure otherwise non-accessible key parameters like insulin sensitivity and beta-cell responsivity from a physiological oral test, the mixed meal or the oral glucose tolerance tests, and what can be gained by adding a tracer to the oral glucose dose. These models were used in various pathophysiological studies, which we will briefly review. A deeper understanding of insulin sensitivity can be gained by measuring insulin action in the skeletal muscle. This requires the use of isotopic tracers: both the classical multiple-tracer dilution and the positron emission tomography techniques are discussed, which quantitate the effect of insulin on the individual steps of glucose metabolism, that is, bidirectional transport plasma-interstitium, and phosphorylation. Finally, we will present a cellular model of insulin secretion that, using a multiscale modeling approach, highlights the relations between minimal model indices and subcellular secretory events. In terms of maximal models, we will move from a parametric to a flux portrait of the system by discussing the triple tracer meal protocol implemented with the tracer-to-tracee clamp technique. This allows to arrive at quasi-model independent measurement of glucose rate of appearance (Ra), endogenous glucose production (EGP), and glucose rate of disappearance (Rd). Both the fast absorbing simple carbs and the slow absorbing complex carbs are discussed. This rich data base has allowed us to build the UVA/Padova Type 1 diabetes and the Padova Type 2 diabetes large scale simulators. In particular, the UVA/Padova Type 1 simulator proved to be a very useful tool to safely and effectively test in silico closed-loop control algorithms for an artificial pancreas (AP). This was the first and unique simulator of the glucose system accepted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a substitute to animal trials for in silico testing AP algorithms. Recent uses of the simulator have looked at glucose sensors for non-adjunctive use and new insulin molecules.

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