A method has been described for the direct measurement of proinsulin in human plasma. The method makes use of an insulin-degrading enzyme designated “insulin-specific protease (ISP)”, which is obtained from rat skeletal muscle. Under the conditions used, this enzyme rapidly degrades insulin and insulin-like polypeptides to nonimmunoassayable components, whereas proinsulin and proinsulin cleaved at position B54,55 are not appreciably affected. The incubation of plasma with ISP results in the disappearance of insulin, but not proinsulin, as demonstrated by column chromatography. Immunoassay of the plasma, therefore, before and after incubation, determines the values for the total immunoreactive substance (TIR) and for immunoreactive proinsulin (IRP), respectively. The values obtained for proinsulin levels are reproducible and compare closely with the more complicated column fractionation methods.
Abbas E. Kitabchi, William C. Duckworth, James S. Brush, Martha Heinemann