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Anti-insulin antibody test

Insulin antibodies - serum; Insulin Ab test; Insulin resistance - insulin antibodies; Diabetes - insulin antibodies

The anti-insulin antibody test checks to see if your body has produced antibodies against insulin.

Antibodies are proteins the body produces to protect itself when it detects anything "foreign," such as a virus or transplanted organ.

How the Test is Performed

A blood sample is needed.

How to Prepare for the Test

No special preparation is necessary.

How the Test will Feel

When the needle is inserted to draw blood, some people feel moderate pain. Others feel only a prick or stinging. Afterward, there may be some throbbing or a slight bruise. This soon goes away.

Why the Test is Performed

This test may be performed if:

  • You have or are at risk for type 1 diabetes
  • You appear to have an allergic response to insulin
  • Insulin no longer seems to control your diabetes

Normal Results

Normally, there are no antibodies against insulin in your blood.

Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Some labs use different measurements or test different samples. Talk to your health care provider about the meaning of your specific test results.

What Abnormal Results Mean

If you have IgG and IgM antibodies against insulin, your body reacts as if the insulin in your body is a foreign protein that needs to be removed. This may make insulin less effective, or not effective at all. This is because the antibody prevents the insulin from working the right way in your cells. As a result, your blood sugar can be unusually high.

The antibodies can also prolong the effect of insulin by releasing some insulin long after your meal has been absorbed. This can put you at risk for low blood sugar.

If the test shows a high level of IgE antibody against insulin, your body has developed an allergic response to the insulin. This could put you at risk for skin reactions where you inject insulin. You can also develop more severe reactions that affect your blood pressure or breathing.

Other medicines, such as antihistamines or low-dose injectable steroids, may help to lessen the reaction. If reactions have been severe, you may need a treatment process called desensitization.

Risks

Veins and arteries vary in size from one person to another and from one side of the body to the other. Obtaining a blood sample from some people may be more difficult than from others.

Other risks of having blood drawn are slight but may include:

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Fainting or feeling lightheaded
  • Hematoma (blood building up under the skin)
  • Infection (a slight risk any time the skin is broken)

References

Atkinson MA. Type 1 diabetes mellitus. In: Melmed S, Polonsky KS, Larsen PR, Kronenberg HM, eds. Williams Textbook of Endocrinology. 13th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 32.

Hamilton RG. Laboratory tests for allergic and immunodeficiency diseases. In: Adkinson NF Jr, Bochner BS, Burks AW, et al, eds. Middleton's Allergy: Principles and Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2013:chap 74.

    • Blood test

      Blood test - illustration

      Blood is drawn from a vein (venipuncture), usually from the inside of the elbow or the back of the hand. A needle is inserted into the vein, and the blood is collected in an air-tight vial or a syringe. Preparation may vary depending on the specific test.

      Blood test

      illustration

      • Blood test

        Blood test - illustration

        Blood is drawn from a vein (venipuncture), usually from the inside of the elbow or the back of the hand. A needle is inserted into the vein, and the blood is collected in an air-tight vial or a syringe. Preparation may vary depending on the specific test.

        Blood test

        illustration

      A Closer Look

       

      Tests for Anti-insulin antibody test

       

      Review Date: 2/3/2016

      Reviewed By: Brent Wisse, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology & Nutrition, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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