Study shows new imaging technique can track beta cell status

June 12, 2014

In a recent Diabetes publication, researchers used a radiotracer or marker and PET scanning as a non-invasive technique to follow changes in how many active beta cells a person has.

For nearly 100 years, we have known that type 1 diabetes (T1D) is a disease fundamentally about the progressive loss of insulin-producing , but measuring that loss has continued to elude researchers—at least until now.

In a recent scientific publication, JDRF-funded researchers used a radiotracer or marker and PET (Positron Emission Tomography) scanning as a non-invasive technique to follow changes in how many active beta cells a person has. Dr. Olle Korsgren and his colleagues at the University of Uppsala in Sweden used the technique in a clinical study of 10 people with T1D and nine without the disease to compare the amount of beta cells in each group. They found the amount or volume of active beta cells was significantly lower in the group with T1D compared to those without T1D, and the reduction was close to what researchers predicted given a loss of the majority of beta cells in the pancreas in T1D. In another study of people with type 2 diabetes, the researchers were able to use the technique to detect a progressive loss of the amount of beta cells in one person imaged repeatedly over a two-year period.

The PET imaging technique is based on recently discovered biological processes that take place in the beta cell. One specific process in the beta cell causes the cells to take up a commonly used imaging radiotracer administered at the beginning of the procedure. The amount of the tracer that is deposited in the pancreas primarily depends on how many beta cells are alive and active. The PET scan can then detect the amount of radiotracer in the pancreas as an approximate measure of the overall amount or volume of beta cells present. The procedure takes only a few hours to complete.

This imaging technique will most likely have no role in diagnosing T1D because of the large variability of the number of beta cells among people with T1D and even among those without T1D. However, it could become a key tool for tracking the loss of beta cells in a person at risk of T1D and as a faster and more precise way to evaluate the benefit of novel beta cell survival and regeneration therapies. More human validation studies of this are needed before it can be used routinely.

Explore further: Specific protein may help beta cells survive in type 1 diabetes

Related Stories

Specific protein may help beta cells survive in type 1 diabetes

June 9, 2014
Researchers find therapeutic potential of MANF protein to reduce beta cell stress in type 1 diabetes.

Researchers find beta cell stress could trigger the development of type 1 diabetes

March 22, 2012
In type 1 diabetes (T1D), pancreatic beta cells die from a misguided autoimmune attack, but how and why that happens is still unclear. Now, JDRF-funded scientists from the Indiana University School of Medicine have found ...

Study shows roles of beta cells and the immune system in Type 1 diabetes

March 9, 2012
A new JDRF-funded study shows that many of the genes known to play a role in type 1 diabetes (T1D) are expressed in pancreatic beta cells, suggesting that the cell responsible for producing insulin may be playing a part in ...

Newly discovered mechanism suggests novel approach to prevent type 1 diabetes

November 13, 2013
New research led by Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) demonstrates a disease mechanism in type 1 diabetes (T1D) that can be targeted using simple, naturally occurring molecules to help prevent the disease. The work highlights ...

Drug preserves beta cells in new cases of type 1 diabetes

August 6, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—A drug in clinical trials has been shown to preserve insulin-producing pancreatic beta cells in nearly half of subjects newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Results of the phase 2 trials are published ...

No rebirth for insulin secreting pancreatic beta cells

April 24, 2013
Pancreatic beta cells store and release insulin, the hormone responsible for stimulating cells to convert glucose to energy. The number of beta cells in the pancreas increases in response to greater demand for insulin or ...

Recommended for you

Scientists discover a new way to treat type 2 diabetes

July 21, 2017
Medication currently being used to treat obesity is also proving to have significant health benefits for patients with type 2 diabetes. A new study published today in Molecular Metabolism explains how this therapeutic benefit ...

Alzheimer's drug cuts hallmark inflammation related to metabolic syndrome by 25 percent

July 20, 2017
An existing Alzheimer's medication slashes inflammation and insulin resistance in patients with metabolic syndrome, a potential therapeutic intervention for a highly dangerous condition affecting 30 percent of adults in the ...

Diabetes or its precursor affects 100 million Americans

July 19, 2017
Almost one-third of the US population—100 million people—either has diabetes or its precursor condition, known as pre-diabetes, said a government report Tuesday.

One virus may protect against type 1 diabetes, others may increase risk

July 11, 2017
Doctors can't predict who will develop type 1 diabetes, a chronic autoimmune disease in which the immune system destroys the cells needed to control blood-sugar levels, requiring daily insulin injections and continual monitoring.

Diabetes complications are a risk factor for repeat hospitalizations, study shows

July 7, 2017
For patients with diabetes, one reason for hospitalization and unplanned hospital readmission is severe dysglycemia (uncontrolled hyperglycemia - high blood sugar, or hypoglycemia - low blood sugar), says new research published ...

Researchers identify promising target to protect bone in patients with diabetes

July 7, 2017
Utilizing metabolomics research techniques, NYU Dentistry researchers investigated the underlying biochemical activity and signaling within the bone marrow of hyperglycemic mice with hopes of reducing fracture risks of diabetics

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.