Objective: It is generally accepted that complete β-cell destruction eventually occurs in individuals with type 1 diabetes, which has implications for treatment approaches and insurance coverage. The frequency of residual insulin secretion in a large cohort of individuals at varying ages of diagnosis and type 1 diabetes duration is unknown.
Research design and methods: The frequency of residual insulin secretion was determined by measurement of nonfasting serum C-peptide concentration in 919 individuals with type 1 diabetes according to prespecified groups based on age at diagnosis and duration of disease (from 3 to 81 years' duration). Stimulated C-peptide was measured in those with detectable nonfasting values and a group of those with undetectable values as control.
Results: The overall frequency of detectable nonfasting C-peptide was 29%, decreasing with time from diagnosis regardless of age at diagnosis. In all duration groups, the frequency of C-peptide was higher with diagnosis age >18 years compared with ≤18 years. Nineteen percent of those with undetectable nonfasting C-peptide were C-peptide positive upon stimulation testing.
Conclusions: The American Diabetes Association's definition of type 1 diabetes as "usually leading to absolute insulin deficiency" results in clinicians often considering the presence of residual insulin secretion as unexpected in this population. However, our data suggest that residual secretion is present in almost one out of three individuals 3 or more years from type 1 diabetes diagnosis. The frequency of residual C-peptide decreases with time from diagnosis regardless of age at diagnosis, yet at all durations of disease, diagnosis during adulthood is associated with greater frequency and higher values of C-peptide.
© 2015 by the American Diabetes Association. Readers may use this article as long as the work is properly cited, the use is educational and not for profit, and the work is not altered.