The Role of Lactate Exercise Test and Fasting Plasma C-Peptide Levels in the Diagnosis of Mitochondrial Diabetes: Analysis of Clinical Characteristics of 12 Patients With Mitochondrial Diabetes in a Single Center With Long-Term Follow-Up

Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). 2022 Feb 21:13:835570. doi: 10.3389/fendo.2022.835570. eCollection 2022.


Objective: The aim of this study was to analyze the clinical characteristics and the pattern of long-term changes of fasting plasma C-peptide in patients with mitochondrial diabetes (MD), and to provide guidance for the diagnosis and treatment of MD.

Methods: We retrieved MD patients with long-term follow-up at Peking Union Medical College Hospital from January 2005 to July 2021 through the medical record retrieval system and retrospectively analyzed their clinical data, biochemical parameters, fasting plasma C-peptide, glycosylated hemoglobin and treatment regimens. Non-parametric receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves were used to assess the relationship between exercise test-related plasma lactate levels and suffering from MD.

Results: A total of 12 MD patients were included, with clinical characteristics of early-onset, normal or low body weight, hearing loss, maternal inheritance, and negative islet-related autoantibodies. In addition, patients with MD exhibited significantly higher mean plasma lactate levels immediately after exercise compared to patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) (8.39 ± 2.75 vs. 3.53 ± 1.47 mmol/L, p=0.003) and delayed recovery time after exercise (6.02 ± 2.65 vs. 2.17 ± 1.27 mmol/L, p=0.011). The optimal cut-off points identified were 5.5 and 3.4 mmol/L for plasma lactate levels immediately after and 30 minutes after exercise, respectively. The fasting plasma C-peptide levels decreased as a negative exponential function with disease progression (Y= 1.343*e-0.07776X, R2 = 0.4154). Treatment regimens in MD patients were varied, with no metformin users and a weak correlation between insulin dosage and body weight.

Conclusions: The increased level of plasma lactate during exercise or its delayed recovery after exercise would contribute to the diagnosis of MD. Changes of fasting plasma C-peptide in MD patients over the course of the disease indicated a rapid decline in the early stages, followed by a gradual slowing rate of decline.

Keywords: clinical features; fasting C-peptide; lactate exercise test; mitochondrial diabetes; monogenic diabetes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Body Weight
  • C-Peptide
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2* / drug therapy
  • Exercise Test
  • Fasting*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Lactic Acid / therapeutic use
  • Retrospective Studies


  • C-Peptide
  • Lactic Acid