The Test Sample
What is being tested?
This test measures the amount of C-peptide in a blood or urine sample. C-peptide and the hormone insulin are created from a larger molecule called proinsulin, and stored in the beta cells of the pancreas. When insulin is released into the bloodstream to help transport glucose into the body's cells (to be used for energy), equal amounts of C-peptide also are released. This makes C-peptide useful as a marker of insulin production and indeed better in some cases than insulin as it is more stable in the blood.
C-peptide can be used to help evaluate the production of endogenous insulin (insulin made by the body's beta cells) and to help differentiate it from exogenous insulin (insulin that is not produced by the body, e.g. injected insulin). This differentiation can be used to help diagnose and monitor a variety of conditions.
How is the sample collected for testing?
A blood sample is obtained by inserting a needle into a vein in the arm. If a 24-hour urine sample is required, you will be asked to save all of your urine over a 24 hour time period.
NOTE: If undergoing medical tests makes you or someone you care for anxious, embarrassed, or even difficult to manage, you might consider reading one or more of the following articles: Coping with Test Pain, Discomfort, and Anxiety, Tips on Blood Testing, Tips to Help Children through Their Medical Tests, and Tips to Help the Elderly through Their Medical Tests.
Another article, Follow That Sample, provides a glimpse at the collection and processing of a blood sample and throat culture.
Is any test preparation needed to ensure the quality of the sample?
Fasting for 8 to 10 hours before blood testing is usually required.