Last Modified: 3:53pm 29/04/2021

What Insulin Does

Titration flow chart coming soon


Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas by beta cells. Although insulin has innumerable roles throughout the body, there are five main actions. (See Table 1).

Table 1: Five major actions of insulin

1 Drives glucose into cells
2 Drives potassium into cells
3 Anabolic
4 Blocks fat breakdown
5 Blocks protein breakdown

The primary role of insulin is to facilitate the movement of glucose across cell membranes for use as an energy source. Additionally, it moves potassium into the cell, is anabolic and blocks the breakdown of proteins and fats.

Thus, lack of insulin results in hyperglycemia, hyperkalemia and a catabolic state where proteins are broken down into ketoacids, and fats are broken down into free fatty acids. All of these combined is what we know as DKA.

Journal of Medical Services 2018