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Beta-cell deficit and increased beta-cell apoptosis in humans with type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes

Humans, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Amyloid, metabolism, Apoptosis, Cell Death, Cell Division, Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2, pathology, physiopathology, Female, Insulin, Islets of Langerhans, Male, Middle Aged, Pancreas, Pancreatic Ducts

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      Abstract

      Type 2 diabetes is characterized by impaired insulin secretion. Some but not all studies suggest that a decrease in beta-cell mass contributes to this. We examined pancreatic tissue from 124 autopsies: 91 obese cases (BMI >27 kg/m(2); 41 with type 2 diabetes, 15 with impaired fasting glucose [IFG], and 35 nondiabetic subjects) and 33 lean cases (BMI <25 kg/m(2); 16 type 2 diabetic and 17 nondiabetic subjects). We measured relative beta-cell volume, frequency of beta-cell apoptosis and replication, and new islet formation from exocrine ducts (neogenesis). Relative beta-cell volume was increased in obese versus lean nondiabetic cases (P = 0.05) through the mechanism of increased neogenesis (P < 0.05). Obese humans with IFG and type 2 diabetes had a 40% (P < 0.05) and 63% (P < 0.01) deficit and lean cases of type 2 diabetes had a 41% deficit (P < 0.05) in relative beta-cell volume compared with nondiabetic obese and lean cases, respectively. The frequency of beta-cell replication was very low in all cases and no different among groups. Neogenesis, while increased with obesity, was comparable in obese type 2 diabetic, IFG, or nondiabetic subjects and in lean type 2 diabetic or nondiabetic subjects. However, the frequency of beta-cell apoptosis was increased 10-fold in lean and 3-fold in obese cases of type 2 diabetes compared with their respective nondiabetic control group (P < 0.05). We conclude that beta-cell mass is decreased in type 2 diabetes and that the mechanism underlying this is increased beta-cell apoptosis. Since the major defect leading to a decrease in beta-cell mass in type 2 diabetes is increased apoptosis, while new islet formation and beta-cell replication are normal, therapeutic approaches designed to arrest apoptosis could be a significant new development in the management of type 2 diabetes, because this approach might actually reverse the disease to a degree rather than just palliate glycemia.

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