A C-peptide test measures the level of this peptide in the blood. It is generally found in amounts equal to insulin. C-peptide is found in amounts equal to insulin because insulin and C-peptide are linked when first made by the pancreas. Insulin helps the body use and control the amount of sugar (glucose) in the blood. Insulin allows glucose to enter body cells where it is used for energy. The level of C-peptide in the blood can show how much insulin is being made by the pancreas. C-peptide does not affect the blood sugar level in the body. See a picture of the pancreas.
A C-peptide test can be done when diabetes has just been found and it is not clear whether type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes is present. A person whose pancreas does not make any insulin (type 1 diabetes) has a low level of insulin and C-peptide. A person with type 2 diabetes has a normal or high level of C-peptide.
A C-peptide test can also help find the cause of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), such as excessive use of medicine to treat diabetes or a noncancerous growth (tumor) in the pancreas (insulinoma). Because man-made (synthetic) insulin does not have C-peptide, a person with a low blood sugar level from taking too much insulin will have a low C-peptide level. An insulinoma causes the pancreas to release too much insulin, which causes blood sugar levels to drop (hypoglycemia). A person with an insulinoma will have a high level of C-peptide in the blood.
A C-peptide test is done to:
You may be asked to stop eating and drinking for 8 hours before having this blood test.
Insulin and some oral medicines used to treat type 2 diabetes can change the test results. Your doctor may ask you to stop these medicines before your blood test.
Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have regarding the need for the test, its risks, how it will be done, or what the results will mean. To help you understand the importance of this test, fill out the medical test information form(What is a PDF document?).
The health professional drawing your blood will:
The blood sample is taken from a vein in your arm. An elastic band is wrapped around your upper arm. It may feel tight. You may feel nothing at all from the needle, or you may feel a quick sting or pinch.
There is very little chance of a problem from having blood sample taken from a vein.
A C-peptide test measures the level of this peptide in the body.
The normal values listed here—called a reference range—are just a guide. These ranges vary from lab to lab, and your lab may have a different range for what’s normal. Your lab report should contain the range your lab uses. Also, your doctor will evaluate your results based on your health and other factors. This means that a value that falls outside the normal values listed here may still be normal for you or your lab.
The level of C-peptide in the blood must be read with the results of a blood glucose test. Both these tests will be done at the same time.
Reasons you may not be able to have the test or why the results may not be helpful include:
Other Works Consulted
- Chernecky CC, Berger BJ (2008). Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures, 5th ed. St. Louis: Saunders.
- Fischbach FT, Dunning MB III, eds. (2009). Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests, 8th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
- Pagana KD, Pagana TJ (2010). Mosby’s Manual of Diagnostic and Laboratory Tests, 4th ed. St. Louis: Mosby Elsevier.
|Primary Medical Reviewer||E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||Alan C. Dalkin, MD - Endocrinology|
|Last Revised||July 9, 2010|
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