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Journal Article

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BioMedical Engineering OnLine



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Frequently Sampled Intravenous Glucose Tolerance Test (FSIVGTT) together with its mathematical model, the minimal model (MINMOD), have become important clinical tools to evaluate the metabolic control of glucose in humans. Dimensional analysis of the model is up to now not available.


A formal dimensional analysis of MINMOD was carried out and the degree of freedom of MINMOD was examined. Through re-expressing all state variable and parameters in terms of their reference scales, MINMOD was transformed into a dimensionless format. Previously defined physiological indices including insulin sensitivity, glucose effectiveness, and first and second phase insulin responses were re-examined in this new formulation. Further, the parameter estimation from FSIVGTT was implemented using both the dimensional and the dimensionless formulations of MINMOD, and the performances were compared utilizing Monte Carlo simulation as well as real human FSIVGTT data.


The degree of freedom (DOF) of MINMOD was found to be 7. The model was maximally simplified in the dimensionless formulation that normalizes the variation in glucose and insulin during FSIVGTT. In the new formulation, the disposition index (Dl), a composite parameter known to be important in diabetes pathology, was naturally defined as one of the dimensionless parameters in the system. The numerical simulation using the dimensionless formulation led to a 1.5–5 fold gain in speed, and significantly improved accuracy and robustness in parameter estimation compared to the dimensional implementation.


Dimensional analysis of MINMOD led to simplification of the model, direct identification of the important composite factors in the dynamics of glucose metabolic control, and better simulations algorithms.

Copyright/Permission Statement

© 2006 Nittala et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


At the time of publication, author Darko Stefanovski was affiliated with the University of Southern California. Currently, he is a faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Veterinary Medicine.



Date Posted: 22 December 2016

This document has been peer reviewed.