Residual β cell function in long-term type 1 diabetes associates with reduced incidence of hypoglycemia

J Clin Invest. 2021 Feb 1;131(3):e143011. doi: 10.1172/JCI143011.


BACKGROUNDWe investigated residual β cell function in Diabetes Control and Complications Trial/Epidemiology of Diabetes Interventions and Complications (DCCT/EDIC) study participants with an average 35-year duration of type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM).METHODSSerum C-peptide was measured during a 4-hour mixed-meal tolerance test. Associations with metabolic outcomes and complications were explored among nonresponders (all C-peptide values after meal <0.003 nmol/L) and 3 categories of responders, classified by peak C-peptide concentration (nmol/L) as high (>0.2), intermediate (>0.03 to ≤0.2), and low (≥ 0.003 to ≤0.03).RESULTSOf the 944 participants, 117 (12.4%) were classified as responders. Residual C-peptide concentrations were associated with higher DCCT baseline concentrations of stimulated C-peptide (P value for trend = 0.0001). Residual C-peptide secretion was not associated with current or mean HbA1c, HLA high-risk haplotypes for T1DM, or the current presence of T1DM autoantibodies. The proportion of subjects with a history of severe hypoglycemia was lower with high (27%) and intermediate (48%) residual C-peptide concentrations than with low (74%) and no (70%) residual C-peptide concentrations (P value for trend = 0.0001). Responders and nonresponders demonstrated similar rates of advanced microvascular complications.CONCLUSIONβ Cell function can persist in long-duration T1DM. With a peak C-peptide concentration of >0.03 nmol/L, we observed clinically meaningful reductions in the prevalence of severe hypoglycemia.TRIAL NCT00360815 and NCT00360893.FUNDINGDivision of Diabetes Endocrinology and Metabolic Diseases of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (DP3-DK104438, U01 DK094176, and U01 DK094157).

Keywords: Autoimmunity; Diabetes; Endocrinology.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • C-Peptide / blood*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / blood*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemia / blood*
  • Incidence
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged


  • C-Peptide

Associated data