MRI as a tool to monitor islet transplantation

Nat Rev Endocrinol. 2009 Aug;5(8):444-52. doi: 10.1038/nrendo.2009.130. Epub 2009 Jun 23.


The development of new methods for noninvasive imaging is an area of biotechnology that is of great relevance for the diagnosis and characterization of diabetes mellitus. Noninvasive imaging can be used to study the dynamics of beta-cell mass and function; beta-cell death; vascularity, innervation and autoimmune attack of pancreatic islets; and the efficacy of islet transplantation to remedy beta-cell loss in patients with diabetes mellitus. In this Review, we focus on the application of MRI for monitoring islet transplantation and on the potential causes of islet graft failure, which are still poorly understood. Questions that have been addressed by MRI studies encompass graft longevity, and the effects of immune rejection, glucose toxic effects, and the transplanted islets' purity on graft fate. We also highlight novel technologies for simultaneous imaging and delivery of experimental therapies that aim to extend the lifespan and functionality of islet grafts. On the basis of this evidence, MRI represents a valuable platform for a thorough investigation of beta-cell function in the context of islet transplantation. State-of-the-art multimodality approaches, such as PET-MRI, can extend our current capabilities and help answer the critical questions that currently inhibit the prevention and cure of diabetes mellitus.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Graft Rejection
  • Humans
  • Islets of Langerhans / metabolism
  • Islets of Langerhans / pathology
  • Islets of Langerhans Transplantation / methods*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*