Transdermal delivery of insulin using microneedles in vivo

Wijaya Martanto, Shawn P. Davis, Nicholas R. Holiday, Jenny Wang, Harvinder S. Gill, Mark R. Prausnitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

283 Scopus citations


Purpose. The purpose of this study was to design and fabricate arrays of solid microneedles and insert them into the skin of diabetic hairless rats for transdermal delivery of insulin to lower blood glucose level. Methods. Arrays containing 105 microneedles were laser-cut from stainless steel metal sheets and inserted into the skin of anesthetized hairless rats with streptozotocin- induced diabetes. During and after microneedle treatment, an insulin solution (100 or 500 U/ml) was placed in contact with the skin for 4 h. Microneedles were removed 10 s, 10 min, or 4 h after initiating transdermal insulin delivery. Blood glucose levels were measured electrochemically every 30 min. Plasma insulin concentration was determined by radioimmunoassay at the end of most experiments. Results. Arrays of microneedles were fabricated and demonstrated to insert fully into hairless rat skin in vivo. Microneedles increased skin permeability to insulin, which rapidly and steadily reduced blood glucose levels to an extent similar to 0.05-0.5 U insulin injected subcutaneously. Plasma insulin concentrations were directly measured to be 0.5-7.4 ng/ml. Higher donor solution insulin concentration, shorter insertion time, and fewer repeated insertions resulted in larger drops in blood glucose level and larger plasma insulin concentrations. Conclusions. Solid metal microneedles are capable of increasing transdermal insulin delivery and lowering blood glucose levels by as much as 80% in diabetic hairless rats in vivo.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)947-952
Number of pages6
JournalPharmaceutical Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2004


  • diabetes
  • microelectromechanical systems (MEMS)
  • microfabrication
  • skin
  • transdermal drug delivery


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