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Medical Dictionary

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C-peptide

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C-peptide A byproduct of insulin production, usually by the pancreas. The level of C-peptide is a gauge of how much insulin is being produced in the body. C-peptide is made up of chemical compounds called amino acids. When the pancreas produces insulin, it releases C-peptide into the bloodstream in the same way that the production of heat from burning coal or wood releases smoke into the atmosphere. The amount of C-peptide in the blood can indicate the presence or absence of disease. For example, abnormally low amounts of C-peptide in the blood suggest the insulin production is too low (or absent) because of type I diabetes, also known as juvenile or insulin-dependent diabetes. Abnormally high amounts of C-peptide warn of the possible presence of a tumor called an insulinoma that secretes insulin. Normal levels of C-peptide may signal that all is well. However, in a person with diabetes, a normal level of C-peptide indicates the body is making plenty of insulin but the body is just not responding properly to it. This is the hallmark of type 2 diabetes (adult insulin-resistant diabetes). C-peptide, therefore, plays a crucial diagnostic role as regards insulin.
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