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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2014 May;99(5):1733-40. doi: 10.1210/jc.2013-3731. Epub 2014 Feb 11.

Islet number rather than islet size is a major determinant of β- and α-cell mass in humans.

Author information

1
Departments of Internal Medicine (K.K., Y.S., S.S., H.I.) and Pathology (T.Y.), Keio University School of Medicine, Tokyo 160-8582, Japan.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

The objective of the study was to clarify the relative contribution of islet number and islet size to β- and α-cell mass in humans.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS:

We obtained the pancreas at autopsy from 72 Japanese adults with no history of diabetes or pancreatitis (aged 47 ± 12 years, body mass index 24.1 ± 5.0 kg/m(2)). Pancreatic sections were stained for insulin or glucagon, and fractional β-cell area (%BCA) and α-cell area (%ACA) were measured. Islet number and islet size as well as β-cell turnover were also quantified. Glycosylated hemoglobin measured within 1 year prior to death was obtained in 38 individuals.

RESULTS:

There was considerable interindividual variation in islet density and mean islet size, with a significant negative correlation between the two (r = -0.25, P = .03). There were significant positive correlations between islet density and %BCA or %ACA (r = 0.63, P < .001, and r = 0.41, P = .001), whereas mean islet size correlated with neither of them. Islet density as well as %BCA, but not mean islet size, was negatively correlated with glycosylated hemoglobin (r = -0.37, P = .02, and r = -0.36, P = .03).

CONCLUSION:

The present study suggests that islet number rather than islet size is a major determinant of β- and α-cell mass in humans. Interindividual difference in islet number may contribute to susceptibility to development of glucose intolerance.

PMID:
24517149
DOI:
10.1210/jc.2013-3731
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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