Pancreas volumes in humans from birth to age one hundred taking into account sex, obesity, and presence of type-2 diabetes

Clin Anat. 2007 Nov;20(8):933-42. doi: 10.1002/ca.20543.


Our aims were (1) by computed tomography (CT) to establish a population database for pancreas volume (parenchyma and fat) from birth to age 100 years, (2) in adults, to establish the impact of gender, obesity, and the presence or absence of type-2 diabetes on pancreatic volume (parenchyma and fat), and (3) to confirm the latter histologically from pancreatic tissue obtained at autopsy with a particular emphasis on whether pancreatic fat is increased in type-2 diabetes. We measured pancreas volume in 135 children and 1,886 adults (1,721 nondiabetic and 165 with type-2 diabetes) with no history of pancreas disease who had undergone abdominal CT scan between 2003 and 2006. Pancreas volume was computed from the contour of the pancreas on each CT image. In addition to total pancreas volume, parenchymal volume, fat volume, and fat/parenchyma ratio (F/P ratio) were determined by CT density. We also quantified pancreatic fat in autopsy tissue of 47 adults (24 nondiabetic and 23 with type-2 diabetes). During childhood and adolescence, the volumes of total pancreas, pancreatic parenchyma, and fat increase linearly with age. From age 20-60 years, pancreas volume reaches a plateau (72.4 +/- 25.8 cm(3) total; 44.5 +/- 16.5 cm(3) parenchyma) and then declines thereafter. In adults, total ( approximately 32%), parenchymal ( approximately 13%), and fat ( approximately 68%) volumes increase with obesity. Pancreatic fat content also increases with aging but is not further increased in type-2 diabetes. We provide lifelong population data for total pancreatic, parenchymal, and fat volumes in humans. Although pancreatic fat increases with aging and obesity, it is not increased in type-2 diabetes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging
  • Autopsy
  • Body Mass Index
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / physiopathology*
  • Organ Size
  • Pancreas / anatomy & histology*
  • Phantoms, Imaging
  • Sex Characteristics*
  • Thinness / physiopathology
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed