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Experimental Diabesity Research
Volume 5 (2004), Issue 1, Pages 15-23

Molecular and Cellular Effects of C-peptide—New Perspectives on an Old Peptide

1Department of Surgical Sciences, Section of Clinical Physiology, and Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
2Creative Peptides, AB, P.O. Box 6753, Stockholm SE-113 85, Sweden

Received 23 January 2003; Accepted 2 April 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.


New results present C-peptide as a biologically active peptide hormone in its own right. Although C-peptide is formed from proinsulin and cosecreted with insulin, it is a separate entity with biochemical and physiological characteristics that differ from those of insulin. There is direct evidence of stereospecific binding of C-peptide to a cell surface receptor, which is different from those for insulin and other related hormones. The C-peptide binding site is most likely a G–protein–coupled receptor. The association constant for C-peptide binding is approximately 3 × 109M-1. Saturation of the binding occurs already at a concentration of about 1 nM, which explains why C-peptide effects are not observed in healthy subjects. Binding of C-peptide results in activation of Ca2+ and MAPK-dependent pathways and stimulation of Na+,K+-ATPase and eNOS activities. The latter 2 enzymes are both deficient in several tissues in type 1 diabetes. There is some evidence that C-peptide, and insulin may interact synergistically on the insulin signaling pathway. Clinical evidence suggests that replacement of C-peptide, together with regular insulin therapy, may be beneficial in patients with type 1 diabetes and serve to retard or prevent the development of long-term complications.