Serum proinsulin levels at fasting and after oral glucose load in patients with Type 2 (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes mellitus
A simple and sensitive human proinsulin radioimmunoassay system was developed using guinea pig antiproinsulin serum, which cross-reacted neither with human insulin nor C-peptide. The recognition site of the antiserum seems to be located near the junction between the B chain and C-peptide. With this assay system, we studied the serum proinsulin concentration at fasting and after an oral 100 g glucose load in 25 healthy subjects, 21 subjects with impaired glucose tolerance and 40 patients with Type 2 (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes mellitus. At fasting, serum proinsulin was 5.8±3.3 pmol/l in normal subjects as compared to 9.5±6.9 pmol/l (p<0.05) in subjects with impaired glucose tolerance and 12.6±7.5 pmol/l (p<0.001) in diabetic patients. The molar ratio of proinsulin to insulin was also increased in subjects with impaired glucose tolerance or diabetes compared to control subjects. After a 100 g oral glucose load, serum proinsulin increased more slowly than insulin. The proinsulin response after an oral glucose load was augmented in subjects with impaired glucose tolerance and diabetes, while the insulin response decreased with the elevation of fasting plasma glucose. Diabetic patients with high fasting plasma glucose had a very poor insulin response, but the proinsulin response was similar to control subjects. There was a linear correlation between summed proinsulin values and summed insulin values, but the slope of the regression line was steeper in diabetic patients than in control subjects. There was a relative increase in serum proinsulin both in subjects with impaired glucose tolerance and diabetic patients. We suggest that B cells may release ‘immature’ granules richer in proinsulin content as well as mature granules in the over-stimulated state.