Up until recently, the prevailing dogma was that insulin secretion ceased within a couple of years after the diagnosis of type I diabetes, a clinical time period called the honeymoon. But a series of recent studies have established that release of C-peptide, which is the best measure of endogenous insulin production, can commonly persist for decades after disease onset. The release of C-peptide, even at low levels, is shown to have functional and clinical significance. For example, C-peptide levels >10 pmol/l are associated with fewer diabetes complications, i.e., nephropathy, neuropathy, foot ulcers, and retinopathy. The diabetic population may also be heterogeneous in risk for fall in C-peptide, with early age of diabetes onset a risk factor for more rapid C-peptide decline. The persistence of insulin release for decades and its functional and clinical significance suggest that assays for C-peptide should be a regular part of diabetes management. Furthermore, patients with established diabetes should be eligible to participate in clinical trials of immune therapies since preservation of these low levels appears clinically important to prevent complications.
Part of the book: Major Topics in Type 1 Diabetes