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The Importance Of C Peptide In Your Diabetes Diagnosis

By Dr. Nikita Toshi +2 more

Nearly each of us knows someone who has diabetes. Being diagnosed with diabetes for the first time can be a tricky affair and there is usually a battery of tests conducted to confirm it. Along with the routine fasting and post-lunch blood sugar levels, your doctor might order a C- peptide blood test as well.

C-peptide is a protein consisting of 31 amino acids. It is produced by the same cells of your pancreas that secrete insulin and hence is found in equal amounts as that of insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps in regulating blood sugar levels. Insulin permits the entry of glucose into the body cells where it is used for energy. C-peptide does not affect the blood sugar levels in the body. Most of the C-peptide is excreted by the kidney and it remains in the body 3-4 times longer than insulin.

C peptide levels directly indicate the insulin levels in the body and hence if it is very low in a patient it can be type 1 diabetes. If in a type 2 diabetes patient if C peptide level is low it indicates that there is reqiurement of insulin therapy and oral medications will be of not much help.

Dr. M.G. Kartheeka, MBBS, MD

How does the C-peptide test help in diagnosing diabetes?

A C-peptide test will measure the level of this peptide in your blood sample. Since both insulin and C-peptide are produced at the same time, the level of C-peptide in your blood can show how much insulin is being made by your pancreas.

This test is done when someone is just diagnosed for having diabetes and it is not yet clear whether it is type 1 or type 2 diabetes. If the person is suffering from type 1 diabetes, (which means no insulin is being made by the pancreas) the C-peptide levels would be very low. If the person is suffering from type 2 diabetes he may have a normal or high level of C-peptide.

Occasionally, there is a condition when a person has very low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and high insulin levels in the blood, but the exact cause of this is to be analysed.   There are two possibilities. Either the person has injected too much insulin or his pancreas is secreting too much insulin (possibly due to insulinoma: a non-cancerous tumour of the pancreas).   This test can also be used as a tool to resolve this problem. As synthetic insulin is man-made, the amount of C-peptide in the blood will not be the same. Hence in case 1, there will be a low C-peptide level. But in case 2, i.e. if there is an increased release of insulin from the pancreas, the person will have a high level of both C-peptide and insulin in their blood sample.

Normal results of c peptide are within the range of 0.5 to 2.7 ng/mL but can vary depending on the lab that is used for testing. A high level of C-peptide could mean a number of conditions, an important point to note is that C-peptide levels are associated with diabetes type and duration of disease.

Dr. Ashish Bajaj – M.B.B.S, M.D.

Also Read: Understanding Insulin Resistance  – Symptoms, Causes & Effects

The test is useful even after surgical removal of such an insulinoma. If the C-peptide levels are high even after the surgery, it can suggest that the tumour has returned or that the tumour has metastasized.

Furthermore, if you are suffering from any liver disease, a severe infection, or Addison’s disease, the levels of both your C-peptide and blood glucose will be low.

Thus, the C-peptide level is a very useful tool in the treatment and management of diabetes, despite the fact that it has no effect on blood glucose levels.

Also  Read: 9 Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes

Disclaimer: The information provided here is for educational/awareness purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional and should not be relied upon to diagnose or treat any medical condition. The reader should consult a registered medical practitioner to determine the appropriateness of the information and before consuming any medication. PharmEasy does not provide any guarantee or warranty (express or implied) regarding the accuracy, adequacy, completeness, legality, reliability or usefulness of the information; and disclaims any liability arising thereof.

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