Minimal model analysis of glucose and insulin data from an IVGTT (intravenous glucose tolerance test) is widely used to estimate insulin sensitivity; however, the use of the model often requires intervention by a trained operator and some problems can occur in the estimation of model parameters. In the present study, a new method for minimal model analysis, termed GAMMOD, was developed based on genetic algorithms for the estimation of model parameters. Such an algorithm does not require the fixing of initial values for the parameters (that may lead to unreliable estimates). Our method also implements an automated weighting scheme not requiring manual intervention of the operator, thus improving the usability of the model. We studied a group of 170 women with a history of previous gestational diabetes. Results obtained by GAMMOD were compared with those obtained by MINMOD (a traditional gradient-based algorithm for minimal model analysis). Insulin sensitivity by GAMMOD was (3.86±0.19) compared with (4.33±0.20)×10−4 μ-units·ml−1·min−1 by MINMOD; glucose effectiveness was 0.0236±0.0005 compared with 0.0229±0.0005 min−1 respectively. The difference in the estimation by the two methods was within the precision expected for such metabolic parameters and is probably of no clinical relevance. Moreover, both the coefficient of variation of the estimated parameters and the error of fit were generally lower in GAMMOD, despite the fact that it does not require manual intervention. In conclusion, the GAMMOD approach for parameter estimation in the minimal model provides a reliable estimation of the model parameters and improves the usability of the model, thus facilitating its further use and application in a clinical context.

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