Personalized computational model quantifies heterogeneity in postprandial responses to oral glucose challenge

Balázs Erdős*, Bart van Sloun, Michiel E Adriaens, Shauna D O'Donovan, Dominique Langin, Arne Astrup, Ellen E Blaak, Ilja C W Arts, Natal A W van Riel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Author summary

The postprandial glucose and insulin responses to an identical meal can vary greatly across individuals. Certain dynamic features of these response curves have been shown to be indicative of the state of the glucose homeostasis and therefore relevant for targeted lifestyle intervention. In this study, we implement personalized computational models of the insulin regulated glucose homeostasis that take advantage of the complete time-courses of postprandial glucose and insulin trajectories following an oral glucose challenge in a large population of overweight/obese individuals. We show that the personalized models capture the responses more accurately compared to population-level models. In addition, the physiological basis of the models provides insight into the variability in the glucose homeostasis of individuals. The model parameters represent relevant features of the metabolic health such as insulin secretion or insulin mediated disposal of glucose into tissues that also correlated with independent measures of insulin secretion and whole-body insulin resistance, respectively. Furthermore, the models can be quantified from comparatively non-invasive sampling techniques and may be readily transferable to the clinic.

Plasma glucose and insulin responses following an oral glucose challenge are representative of glucose tolerance and insulin resistance, key indicators of type 2 diabetes mellitus pathophysiology. A large heterogeneity in individuals' challenge test responses has been shown to underlie the effectiveness of lifestyle intervention. Currently, this heterogeneity is overlooked due to a lack of methods to quantify the interconnected dynamics in the glucose and insulin time-courses. Here, a physiology-based mathematical model of the human glucose-insulin system is personalized to elucidate the heterogeneity in individuals' responses using a large population of overweight/obese individuals (n = 738) from the DIOGenes study. The personalized models are derived from population level models through a systematic parameter selection pipeline that may be generalized to other biological systems. The resulting personalized models showed a 4-5 fold decrease in discrepancy between measurements and model simulation compared to population level. The estimated model parameters capture relevant features of individuals' metabolic health such as gastric emptying, endogenous insulin secretion and insulin dependent glucose disposal into tissues, with the latter also showing a significant association with the Insulinogenic index and the Matsuda insulin sensitivity index, respectively.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1008852
Number of pages18
JournalPLoS Computational Biology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021



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