Prognostic relevance of pancreatic uptake of technetium-99m labelled human polyclonal immunoglobulins in patients with type 1 diabetes

Eur J Nucl Med. 1998 May;25(5):503-8. doi: 10.1007/s002590050250.


Insulin-dependent type 1 diabetes (IDDM) is caused by the autoimmune destruction of insulin-producing beta cells. Approximately 10%-20% of patients may benefit from adjuvant immunotherapy upon diagnosis of the disease in order to protect residual beta-cell function. It has been suggested that this subgroup of patients differs from others by virtue of the presence of residual pancreatic inflammation and beta-cell function. In this study we have investigated to what extent technetium-99m-labelled human polyclonal immunoglobulins (99mTc-HIG) accumulate in the pancreas of IDDM patients at the time of diagnosis and 1 year thereafter, with a view to ascertaining whether HIG scintigraphy is useful for the identification of IDDM patients with residual pancreatic inflammation. Patients with recent-onset IDDM (n=15) were investigated at the time of diagnosis and 1 year later, and ten age- and sex-matched normal subjects were also studied. Gamma camera imaging and target to background ratio, analysed blind by three independent readers, were used to quantify the radioactivity in the pancreatic region and findings were correlated with metabolic, immunological and clinical parameters. Seven out of 15 newly diagnosed IDDM patients showed a significant accumulation of radiolabelled HIG in the pancreas (pancreas/bone ratio higher than the mean +2SD of normal subjects). One year after diagnosis, pancreatic accumulation of HIG was still detectable in most IDDM patients who were positive at the time of diagnosis. Six out of seven patients with positive scintigraphy had a partial clinical remission. These results indicate that HIG scintigraphy at the time of onset of diabetes identifies a subset of patients with residual beta-cell function who may benefit from adjuvant immunotherapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / diagnostic imaging*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulins*
  • Islets of Langerhans / diagnostic imaging*
  • Islets of Langerhans / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Prognosis
  • Radionuclide Imaging
  • Technetium*
  • Time Factors


  • Immunoglobulins
  • technetium Tc 99m immunoglobulin
  • Technetium