Improvement in the sensitivity and specificity of the C-peptide immunoassay and studies of larger groups of patients have increased our knowledge of the importance of residual beta-cell function and its metabolic consequences in insulin-treated diabetic patients. During the first five to 10 years after the onset of diabetes mellitus residual beta-cell function is demonstrable in the majority of insulin-treated patients irrespective of the severity of the initial symptoms and only partly dependent on the patient's age at diagnosis. Residual beta-cell function facilitates good control. Stable patients have a higher C-peptide concentration in plasma than unstable ones, but unmeasurable C-peptide is not always associated with poor control. More data are needed before the full significance of an even minimal reserve of beta-cell function is elucidated. It also remains to be shown whether the reduction in beta-cell function in diabetic patients has a qualitative as well as quantitative component.

This content is only available via PDF.