Human β-Cell Mass and Distribution in Health, Aging and Diabetes
Pp. 42-57 (16)
Jonas L. Fowler, Ananta Poudel and Manami Hara
Regulation of pancreatic β-cell mass is an essential matter to understand
pathophysiology of diabetes. Physiological and pathological changes of β-cell mass
associated with aging, obesity and diabetes have been reported for over a century.
However, the degree of compensation or alteration significantly varies among
literature. The difficulty in studying the human pancreas is its large size and uneven
distribution of β-cells/islets. Whole pancreas analysis has revealed intra-individual
(regional) and inter-individual heterogeneity in β-cell mass, which hampers accurate
quantification. Furthermore, physical β-cell loss is not the only contributing factor, but
“dysfunctional” β-cells may be involved in insulin deficiency as well. Development of
a practical stereological approach to quantify β-cell mass to overcome intra-individual
and inter-individual heterogeneity would provide a standardized methodology in the
field. Identification of marker(s) for quantifying dysfunctional β-cells that synthesize
insulin but are deficient in insulin secretion should lead to a better understanding of
Aging, β-cell mass, Diabetes, Islets.
epartment of Medicine, The University of Chicago, Chicago, USA.