The Impact of Pancreatic Beta Cell Heterogeneity on Type 1 Diabetes Pathogenesis

Curr Diab Rep. 2018 Sep 24;18(11):112. doi: 10.1007/s11892-018-1085-2.


Purpose of review: To discuss advances in our understanding of beta-cell heterogeneity and the ramifications of this for type 1 diabetes (T1D) and its therapy.

Recent findings: A number of studies have challenged the long-standing dogma that the majority of beta cells are eliminated in T1D. As many as 80% are present in some T1D subjects. Why don't these cells function properly to release insulin in response to high glucose? Other findings deploying single-cell "omics" to study both healthy and diseased cells-from patients with both T1D and type 2 diabetes (T2D)-have revealed cell subpopulations and heterogeneity at the transcriptomic/protein level between individual cells. Finally, our own and others' findings have demonstrated the importance of functional beta-cell subpopulations for insulin secretion. Heterogeneity may endow beta cells with molecular features that predispose them to failure/death during T1D.

Keywords: Beta cell; Heterogeneity; Imaging; Insulin; Transcriptomics; Type 1 diabetes.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / etiology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / therapy
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / pathology
  • Humans
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells / pathology*
  • Models, Biological