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A soluble-phase proinsulin assay has been developed which does not require solid-phase antibody-binding. A human proinsulin standard curve is prepared in insulin-free and proinsulin-free plasma for comparison with unknown plasma samples. Proinsulin and insulin are bound with excess anti-insulin antiserum, and free C-peptide is removed by charcoal adsorption. The supernatant is then assayed using a routine C-peptide radioimmunoassay which utilises anti-C-peptide antiserum. The sensitivity of the assay (2 standard deviations above zero) is 9 pmol/L using 200 microL plasma sample. The assay is free from insulin cross-reactivity up to 100 mU/L and C-peptide up to 2000 pmol/L. Between-assay CV is 13% at 100 pmol/L. The assay has been used in subjects with hypoglycaemia of various aetiologies and has shown that a raised plasma proinsulin in the presence of hypoglycaemia can occur in sulphonylurea-induced and reactive hypoglycaemia as well as in insulinomas. After hyperglycaemic clamps at 7.5, 10 and 15 mmol/L glucose, type II diabetics both on and off sulphonylurea, were found to have lower proinsulin concentrations compared with normal subjects, commensurate with the diabetics' lower insulin responses.

Original publication




Journal article


Ann Clin Biochem

Publication Date



24 ( Pt 4)


352 - 363


Adult, Antibody Specificity, C-Peptide, Diabetes Mellitus, Female, Humans, Hypoglycemia, Immune Sera, Insulin, Male, Proinsulin, Radioimmunoassay, Reference Standards