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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2012 Nov;97(11):E2109-13. doi: 10.1210/jc.2012-1815. Epub 2012 Aug 9.

Pancreatic volume is reduced in adult patients with recently diagnosed type 1 diabetes.

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  • 1School of Clinical Sciences, Learning and Research Building, Southmead Hospital, Bristol BS10 5NB, United Kingdom.



Pancreatic atrophy is common in longstanding type 1 diabetes, but there are limited data concerning pancreas size at diagnosis.


Our objective was to determine whether pancreatic size was reduced in patients with recently diagnosed type 1 diabetes and assess whether pancreatic volume was related to residual β-cell function or islet autoantibodies.


We conducted a controlled cohort study with strict inclusion criteria, recruiting from hospital diabetes clinics between 2007 and 2010. PATIENTS AND HEALTHY CONTROLS: Participants included 20 male adult patients (median age 27 yr) with recent-onset type 1 diabetes (median duration 3.8 months) and 24 male healthy controls (median age 27 yr).


Interventions included noninvasive magnetic resonance imaging, collection of fasting blood samples, and glucagon stimulation testing in patients.


We compared pancreatic volume estimates between patients with recent-onset type 1 diabetes and healthy controls as planned a priori.


Scans were analyzed by an experienced radiologist blinded to diabetes status. Pancreatic volume correlated with body weight in patients and controls (P = 0.007). After adjustment for body weight, mean pancreatic volume index was 26% less in patients (1.19 ml/kg, se 0.07 ml/kg) than in controls (1.61 ml/kg, se 0.08 ml/kg) (P = 0.001). No correlation was seen between pancreatic volume index in patients and diabetes duration, glucose or C-peptide levels, glycated hemoglobin, and islet autoantibodies.


Pancreatic volume is reduced by 26% in patients with type 1 diabetes within months of diagnosis, suggesting that atrophy begins years before the onset of clinical disease. Pancreatic atrophy within individuals is therefore a potential clinical marker of disease progression.

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