The ongoing ability of beta cell function
Beta cell functioning also appears to be preserved in some patients years after apparent loss of pancreatic function.
Blood samples from the participants were evaluated using an ultrasensitive assay for C-peptide, a marker of insulin secretion, to test for residual beta cell function.
The study revealed that C-peptide remains functionally responsive to blood sugar levels.
Although C-peptide levels were lower among those who had longer duration of diabetes, the decrease over time was gradual – and not the abrupt decline predicted by the conventional picture of type 1 diabetes.
Even among patients with disease duration of 31 to 40 years, 10% still produced C-peptide. Beta cell functioning also remained intact at very low C-peptide levels. The assay used in the study is 22 times more sensitive than the current standard assay.
Diabetes Care 2012;35:465-470