Test ID: INS    
Insulin, Serum

Useful For Suggests clinical disorders or settings where the test may be helpful

Diagnosing insulinoma, when used in conjunction with proinsulin and C-peptide measurements


Management of diabetes mellitus

Clinical Information Discusses physiology, pathophysiology, and general clinical aspects, as they relate to a laboratory test

Insulin is a hormone produced by the beta cells of the pancreas. It regulates the uptake and utilization of glucose and is also involved in protein synthesis and triglyceride storage.


Type 1 diabetes (insulin-dependent diabetes) is caused by insulin deficiency due to destruction of insulin-producing pancreatic islet (beta) cells. Type 2 diabetes (noninsulin-dependent diabetes) is characterized by resistance to the action of insulin (insulin resistance).


Insulin levels may be increased in patients with pancreatic beta cell tumors (insulinoma).

Reference Values Describes reference intervals and additional information for interpretation of test results. May include intervals based on age and sex when appropriate. Intervals are Mayo-derived, unless otherwise designated. If an interpretive report is provided, the reference value field will state this.

2.6-24.9 mcIU/mL


For SI unit Reference Values, see International System of Units (SI) Conversion

Interpretation Provides information to assist in interpretation of the test results

During prolonged fasting, when the patient's glucose level is reduced to <40 mg/dL, an elevated insulin level plus elevated levels of proinsulin and C-peptide suggest insulinoma.


Insulin levels generally decline in patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus.


In the early stage of type 2 diabetes, insulin levels are either normal or elevated. In the late stage of type 2 diabetes, insulin levels decline.


In normal individuals, insulin levels parallel blood glucose levels.


To compare insulin and C-peptide concentrations (ie, insulin to C-peptide ratio):

-Convert insulin to pmol/L: insulin concentration in mcIU/mL x 6.945 = insulin concentration in pmol/L.

-Convert C-peptide to pmol/L: C-peptide concentration in ng/mL x 331 = C-peptide concentration in pmol/L.

Cautions Discusses conditions that may cause diagnostic confusion, including improper specimen collection and handling, inappropriate test selection, and interfering substances

Human antimouse antibodies (HAMA) may interfere with the assay.


This assay has 100% cross-reactivity with recombinant human insulin (Novolin R and Novolin N). It does not recognize other commonly used analogues of injectable insulin (ie, insulin lispro, insulin aspart, and insulin glargine).

Clinical Reference Recommendations for in-depth reading of a clinical nature

1. Threatte GA, Henry JB: Carbohydrates. In: Henry JB, ed. Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 19th ed. WB Saunders Company; 1996:194-207

2. Sacks DB: Diabetes mellitus. In: Rifai N, Horvath AR, Wittwer CT, eds. Tietz Textbook of Clinical Chemistry and Molecular Diagnostics 6th ed. Elsevier; 2018:1160-1200