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Experimental Diabesity Research
Volume 5, Issue 1, Pages 51-64

Effects of C-peptide on Microvascular Blood Flow and Blood Hemorheology

1Institute for Clinical Research and Development, Mainz D-55130, Germany
2Department of Internal Medicine, ZMH, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Received 12 March 2003; Accepted 2 October 2003

Copyright © 2004 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Beside functional and structural changes in vascular biology, alterations in the rheologic properties of blood cells mainly determines to an impaired microvascular blood flow in patients suffering from diabetes mellitus. Recent investigations provide increasing evidence that impaired C-peptide secretion in type 1 diabetic patients might contribute to the development of microvascular complications. C-peptide has been shown to stimulate endothelial NO secretion by activation of the Ca2+calmodolin regulated enzyme eNOS. NO himself has the potency to increase cGMP levels in smooth muscle cells and to activate Na+K+ATPase activity and therefore evolves numerous effects in microvascular regulation. In type 1 diabetic patients, supplementation of C-peptide was shown to improve endothelium dependent vasodilatation in an NO-dependent pathway in different vascular compartments. In addition, it could be shown that C-peptide administration in type 1 diabetic patients, results in a redistribution of skin blood flow by increasing nutritive capillary blood flow in favour to subpapillary blood flow. Impaired Na+K+ATPase in another feature of diabetes mellitus in many cell types and is believed to be a pivotal regulator of various cell functions. C-peptide supplementation has been shown to restore Na+K+ATPase activity in different cell types during in vitro and in vivo investigations. In type 1 diabetic patients, C-peptide supplementation was shown to increase erythrocyte Na+K+ATPase activity by about 100%. There was found a linear relationship between plasma C-peptide levels and erythrocyte Na+K+ATPase activity. In small capillaries, microvascular blood flow is increasingly determined by the rheologic properties of erythrocytes. Using laser-diffractoscopie a huge improvement in erythrocyte deformability could be observed after C-peptide administration in erythrocytes of type 1 diabetic patients. Inhibition of the Na+K+ATPase by Obain completely abolished the effect of C-peptide on erythrocyte deformability. In conclusion, C-peptide improves microvascular function and blood flow in type 1 diabetic patients by interfering with vascular and rheological components of microvascular blood flow.