Restoring a functional beta-cell mass in diabetes

Diabetes Obes Metab. 2008 Nov;10 Suppl 4:54-62. doi: 10.1111/j.1463-1326.2008.00941.x.


Type 1 and type 2 diabetes have often been presented as disease forms that profoundly differ in the presence and pathogenic significance of a reduced beta-cell mass. We review evidence indicating that the beta-cell mass in type 1 diabetes is usually not decreased by at least 90% at clinical onset, and remains often detectable for years after diagnosis at age above 15 years. Clinical and experimental evidence also exists for a reduced beta-cell mass in type 2 diabetes where it can be the cause for and/or the consequence of dysregulated beta-cell functions. With beta-cell mass defined as number of beta-cells, these views face the limitation of insufficient data and methods for human organs. Because beta-cells can occur under different phenotypes that vary with age and with environmental conditions, we propose to use the term functional beta-cell mass as an assessment of a beta-cell population by the number of beta-cells and their phenotype or functional state. Assays exist to measure functional beta-cell mass in isolated preparations. We selected a glucose-clamp test to evaluate functional beta-cell mass in type 1 patients at clinical onset and in type 1 recipients following intraportal islet cell transplantation. Comparison of the data with those in non-diabetic controls helps targeting and monitoring of therapeutic interventions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Child
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / metabolism*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / physiopathology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / surgery
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / metabolism*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Glucose Clamp Technique / methods
  • Humans
  • Insulin / therapeutic use
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells / physiology*
  • Islets of Langerhans / metabolism*
  • Islets of Langerhans / physiopathology
  • Islets of Langerhans Transplantation / physiology*
  • Male
  • Regeneration / drug effects
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Blood Glucose
  • Insulin