Lapis ISSN 2398-2969

Blood biochemistry: glucose


  • Physiological plasma levels of glucose are maintained by glucagon (raises glucose) and insulin (lowers glucose) to ensure that a continuous supply of glucose is available as an energy source for cell metabolism.
  • Absorbed via small intestine.
  • Stored as glycogen in liver and muscle and liberated when plasma levels fall.
  • Other hormones can raise plasma glucose by increasing gluconeogenesis or glycogenolysis or increasing/decreasing utilization.
  • Any condition which affects these hormones will influence plasma glucose levels.
  • Hypoinsulinism (diabetes mellitus)   →   hyperglycemia.
  • Epinephrine (adrenaline), cortisol, growth hormone, progesterone   →   increase glucose levels.


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  • Dextrostix used with whole blood only, gives a semiquantitative indicator of gross changes in plasma glucose.
  • In-house glucometers (calibrated for dogs and cats) may be used but are not calibrated for rabbits.

Specific assays

  • Glucose oxidase reaction - results said to approach true glucose value under reliable laboratory conditions.
  • Ortho-toluidine - also measures galactose and mannose, but these are considered insignificant; simple, fast test.

Non-specific assays

  • Nelson-Somogyi and Folin-Wu - may give slightly higher than true levels, the former more specific than the latter.
  • Ferricyanide - approaches true glucose level.

Technique (intrinsic) limitations

  • Some laboratory methods affected by presence of enzyme inhibitors/activators.

Result Data

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Further Reading


Refereed papers

  • Recent references fromPubMed andVetMedResource.
  • Harcourt-Brown F M & Harcourt-Brown S (2012)Clinical values of blood glucose measurement in pet rabbits. Vet Rec170(26), 674PubMed.
  • Benson K G & Paul-Murphy J (1999)Clinical pathology of the domestic rabbit: acquisition and interpretation of samples. Vet Clin North Am Exotic Anim Pract2(3), 539-552PubMed.

Other sources of information

  • Varga M (2014)Textbook of Rabbit Medicine.2nd edn. Butterworth Heinemann Elsevier, London.
  • Wesche P (2014)Clinical Pathology.In: BSAVA Manual of Rabbit Medicine.Eds: Meredith A & Lord B. BSAVA, Gloucester, UK.
  • Harcourt-Brown F M & Harcourt-Brown S (2012)Clinical Value of Blood Glucose Measurement in Pet Rabbits. Vet Rec170, 26.
  • Fudge A M (1999)Laboratory Medicine. Avian and Exotic Pets.W B Saunders Co. ISBN 0721 676 790.