Pancreatic volume is reduced in adult patients with recently diagnosed type 1 diabetes

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2012 Nov;97(11):E2109-13. doi: 10.1210/jc.2012-1815. Epub 2012 Aug 9.


Context: Pancreatic atrophy is common in longstanding type 1 diabetes, but there are limited data concerning pancreas size at diagnosis.

Objective: Our objective was to determine whether pancreatic size was reduced in patients with recently diagnosed type 1 diabetes and assess whether pancreatic volume was related to residual β-cell function or islet autoantibodies.

Design and setting: We conducted a controlled cohort study with strict inclusion criteria, recruiting from hospital diabetes clinics between 2007 and 2010. PATIENTS AND HEALTHY CONTROLS: Participants included 20 male adult patients (median age 27 yr) with recent-onset type 1 diabetes (median duration 3.8 months) and 24 male healthy controls (median age 27 yr).

Intervention: Interventions included noninvasive magnetic resonance imaging, collection of fasting blood samples, and glucagon stimulation testing in patients.

Main outcome measures: We compared pancreatic volume estimates between patients with recent-onset type 1 diabetes and healthy controls as planned a priori.

Results: Scans were analyzed by an experienced radiologist blinded to diabetes status. Pancreatic volume correlated with body weight in patients and controls (P = 0.007). After adjustment for body weight, mean pancreatic volume index was 26% less in patients (1.19 ml/kg, se 0.07 ml/kg) than in controls (1.61 ml/kg, se 0.08 ml/kg) (P = 0.001). No correlation was seen between pancreatic volume index in patients and diabetes duration, glucose or C-peptide levels, glycated hemoglobin, and islet autoantibodies.

Conclusions: Pancreatic volume is reduced by 26% in patients with type 1 diabetes within months of diagnosis, suggesting that atrophy begins years before the onset of clinical disease. Pancreatic atrophy within individuals is therefore a potential clinical marker of disease progression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Atrophy
  • Blood Glucose
  • C-Peptide / blood
  • Cohort Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / pathology*
  • Disease Progression
  • Humans
  • Insulin / blood
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Organ Size
  • Pancreas / pathology*


  • Blood Glucose
  • C-Peptide
  • Insulin