Assessment of sympathetic innervation of the heart in diabetes mellitus using 123I-MIBG

Diabetes Nutr Metab. 2000 Dec;13(6):350-5.


Radio-labeled metaiodobenzylguanidine (MIBG) is considered an established sympathetic neuron imaging agent capable of scintigraphically visualizing the organs richly innervated by the sympathetic nervous system. Its clinical applications now include cardiac and pulmonary adrenergic imaging. The quantitative determination of global and/or regional abnormalities of MIBG heart uptake has been demonstrated to be very useful in several clinical settings representing one of the major determinants of adverse prognosis. The presence and the severity of autonomic neuropathy are known as important prognostic factors in patients with diabetes. MIBG scintigraphy is able to non-invasively assess and characterize the adrenergic abnormalities of the cardiac innervation also in these patients. In order to evaluate whether 123I-MIBG is able to reveal abnormalities of myocardial adrenergic function in different groups of diabetic patients, we performed 123I-MIBG scintigraphy in control subjects and in normotensive Type 1 diabetic patients with and without autonomic neuropathy (N+ and N- patients), selected according to results of cardiovascular reflex tests. Regional abnormalities of adrenergic innervation were revealed in 10% of control subjects, in 70% of N- patients and in 100% of N+ patients. The finding of a higher than expected prevalence of MIBG regional abnormalities in patients without signs or symptoms of autonomic neuropathy allows to hypothesize that cardiac autonomic nervous damage occurs earlier than previously known in diabetic patients whose cardiovascular tests are still completely normal.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • 3-Iodobenzylguanidine*
  • Adrenergic Fibers / diagnostic imaging*
  • Autonomic Nervous System Diseases / diagnostic imaging*
  • Autonomic Nervous System Diseases / physiopathology
  • Diabetes Mellitus / diagnostic imaging*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / physiopathology
  • Diabetic Neuropathies / diagnostic imaging*
  • Diabetic Neuropathies / physiopathology
  • Electrocardiography
  • Heart / diagnostic imaging
  • Heart / innervation*
  • Heart Diseases / diagnostic imaging
  • Heart Diseases / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Prognosis
  • Radionuclide Imaging


  • 3-Iodobenzylguanidine