The underlying cause of type 1 diabetes, loss of β-cell function, has become the therapeutic target for a number of interventions in patients with type 1 diabetes. Even though insulin therapies continue to improve, it remains difficult to achieve normal glycemic control in type 1 diabetes, especially long term. The associated risks of hypoglycemia and end-organ diabetic complications remain. Retention of β-cell function in patients with type 1 diabetes is known to result in improved glycemic control and reduced hypoglycemia, retinopathy, and nephropathy. To facilitate the development of therapies aimed at altering the type 1 diabetes disease process, an American Diabetes Association workshop was convened to identify appropriate efficacy outcome measures in type 1 diabetes clinical trials. The following consensus emerged: While measurements of immune responses to islet cells are important in elucidating pathogenesis, none of these measures have directly correlated with the decline in endogenous insulin secretion. HbA1c is a highly valuable clinical measure of glycemic control, but it is an insensitive measure of β-cell function, particularly with the currently accepted standard of near-normal glycemic control. Rates of severe hypoglycemia and diabetic complications ultimately will be improved by therapies that are effective at preserving β-cell function but as primary outcomes require inordinately large and protracted trials. Endogenous insulin secretion is assessed best by measurement of C-peptide, which is cosecreted with insulin in a one-to-one molar ratio but unlike insulin experiences little first pass clearance by the liver. Measurement of C-peptide under standardized conditions provides a sensitive, well accepted, and clinically validated assessment of β-cell function. C-peptide measurement is the most suitable primary outcome for clinical trials of therapies aimed at preserving or improving endogenous insulin secretion in type 1 diabetes patients. Available data demonstrate that even relatively modest treatment effects on C-peptide will result in clinically meaningful benefits. The development of therapies for addressing this important unmet clinical need will be facilitated by trials that are carefully designed with β-cell function as determined by C-peptide measurement as the primary efficacy outcome.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Internal Medicine
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism