Islet volume and indexes of β-cell function in humans

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Islet volume and endocrine pancreas architecture (islet size distribution) may be independent determinants of β-cell function. Furthermore, the accuracy of homeostatic model assessment (HOMA) indexes in predicting β-cell mass has never been assessed. Here we investigated the relationships between islet volume, islet density, and islet size distribution, estimated after pancreatic tissue digestion, with established indexes of β-cell function in humans. We included in this study 42 patients who were candidates for islet autotransplantation and had well-characterized glucose metabolism. Indexes of insulin secretion were calculated and compared with the islet volume, as a surrogate of β-cell mass, obtained after digestion of pancreas. Islet counting analysis showed considerable interindividual variation in islet density and size. Islet volume, but not density nor size, was the only independent determinant of β-cell function assessed by insulin HOMA β-cell. Islet volume was significantly reduced in the patients with overt hyperglycemia, but not in patients with impaired fasting glucose. Insulin HOMA β-cell predicted islet volume better than other measures of fasting insulin secretion. In conclusion, the present study documented a close direct relationship between indexes of β-cell function and islet volume in humans. The insulin HOMA β-cell provides a more reliable estimate of pancreatic islet volume than fasting glucose before islet isolation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)491-501
Number of pages11
JournalCell Transplantation
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Homeostatic model assessment (HOMA)
  • Human islets
  • Islet density
  • Islet size
  • Islet volume
  • β-cell mass

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology
  • Transplantation
  • Biomedical Engineering


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