Welcome to the Exeter Clinical Laboratory International website
NHS logo

Insulinoma Screen (Proinsulin)

Blood Sciences Test

Please note: This test is only available following discussion with the Duty Biochemist or the Endocrine Team. This should not be the front line test for the investigation of hypoglycaemia (see Insulin/ C-peptide).


Serum sample on ice and received in the laboratory within 15 mins of sample collection, this must NOT be haemolysed. A fluoride oxalate sample for Glucose analysis.

Special Instructions

All samples MUST be accompanied by a sample for a laboratory glucose taken at the same time. The glucose should be below 3.0 mmol/L, otherwise the sample will not be sent to the referral laboratory.

Please follow the trust protocol 72 hour fast for Insulinoma. This can be accessed on the HUB.

The insulinoma screen includes insulin, C-peptide and proinsulin.

Test Usage

Insulin is a hormone secreted by the islet cells of the pancreas that regulates carbohydrate metabolism. Measurement of plasma insulin levels is helpful in the diagnosis of insulinoma. Eighty percent of patients have a single benign tumor, usually < 2-cm in diameter, located about equally in the head, body or tail of the pancreas. About 10% of patients have multiple tumors associated with multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 and the remaining 10% have metastatic malignant insulinoma.

Patients with insulinomas usually present with fasting hypoglycemia, but occasionally may present with postprandial hypoglycemia. The diagnosis depends on demonstrating elevated serum insulin and C peptide levels when the patient has symptoms of hypoglycemia and plasma glucose is low. One third of patients with insulinoma have an insulin level within the normal range, so it must be shown that the insulin level is high for the patient’s glucose level. Inappropriate elevation of insulin can occur in two conditions; insulinoma and exogenous administration of insulin. This distinction can be made by measuring C peptide, which is created by the cleavage of proinsulin to insulin within the beta cell. It is not present in pharmaceutical insulin. Serum C peptide level is low with surreptitious injection of insulin and increased with insulinoma.

Insulin antibodies in diabetic patients who have been treated with beef or pork insulin may interfere with insulin quantitation. A test for insulin antibody should be included in the work-up of these patients.

Insulin levels are increased in obesity, Cushing’s syndrome, and acromegaly. Patients taking oral contraceptives, exogenous corticosteroids, or L-dopa have elevated insulin levels.


Referred test

Turnaround Time

14 days

Cannot be added on to an existing request

Assayed By

Chemical Pathology Dept. Royal Surrey County Hospital Guildford

Specimen Labelling Procedure
University of Exeter logo
UKAS Medical logo


Royal Devon University Healthcare logo