Abnormalities of the Exocrine Pancreas in Type 1 Diabetes

Curr Diab Rep. 2015 Oct;15(10):79. doi: 10.1007/s11892-015-0653-y.


Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is considered a pancreatic beta cell-specific disease that results in absolute insulin deficiency. Nevertheless, clinical studies from 1940 onwards showed that patients with T1D had an abnormal exocrine pancreas due to the presence of subclinical exocrine insufficiency and acinar atrophy. Exocrine abnormalities are an important, and mostly neglected, characteristic associated with T1D. It is however still unclear whether the exocrine dysfunction in T1D is a primary damage caused by the same pathogenic event that led to beta cell destruction or secondary to beta cell loss. In this review, we collect evidence supporting the hypothesis that T1D is a combined endocrine-exocrine disease in which the loss of functional beta cell mass is most clinically apparent.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / complications
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / metabolism*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / pathology
  • Humans
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells / metabolism
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells / pathology
  • Pancreas, Exocrine / metabolism*
  • Pancreatic Elastase / metabolism
  • Pancreatitis / etiology
  • Trypsinogen / blood


  • Trypsinogen
  • Pancreatic Elastase