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Postepy Hig Med Dosw (Online). 2012 Mar 14;66:135-45. doi: 10.5604/17322693.986169.

[Pleiotropic action of proinsulin C-peptide].

[Article in Polish]

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  • 1Zakład Regulacji Metabolizmu, Instytut Biochemii, Wydział Biologii, Uniwersytet Warszawski, ul. I. Miecznikowa 1, 02-096 Warszawa.


Proinsulin C-peptide, released in equimolar amounts with insulin by pancreatic β cells, since its discovery in 1967 has been thought to be devoid of biological functions apart from correct insulin processing and formation of disulfide bonds between A and B chains. However, in the last two decades research has brought a substantial amount of data indicating a crucial role of C-peptide in regulating various processes in different types of cells and organs. C-peptide acts presumably via either G-protein-coupled receptor or directly inside the cell, after being internalized. However, a receptor binding this peptide has not been identified yet. This peptide ameliorates pathological changes induced by type 1 diabetes mellitus, including glomerular hyperfiltration, vessel endothelium inflammation and neuron demyelinization. In diabetic patients and diabetic animal models, C-peptide substitution in physiological doses improves the functional and structural properties of peripheral neurons and protects against hyperglycemia-induced apoptosis, promoting neuronal development, regeneration and cell survival. Moreover, it affects glycogen synthesis in skeletal muscles. In vitro C-peptide promotes disaggregation of insulin oligomers, thus enhancing its bioavailability and effects on metabolism. There are controversies concerning the biological action of C-peptide, particularly with respect to its effect on Na⁺/K⁺-ATPase activity. Surprisingly, the excess of circulating peptide associated with diabetes type 2 contributes to atherosclerosis development. In view of these observations, long-term, large-scale clinical investigations using C-peptide physiological doses need to be conducted in order to determine safety and health outcomes of long-term administration of C-peptide to diabetic patients.

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