β-Cell Mass and Turnover in Humans

Effects of obesity and aging

  1. Peter C. Butler, MD1
  1. 1Larry L. Hillblom Islet Research Center, University of California, Los Angeles, David Geffen School of Medicine, Los Angeles, California
  2. 2Department of Medicine Statistics Core, University of California, Los Angeles, David Geffen School of Medicine, Los Angeles, California
  3. 3Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, Metabolism, and Nutrition, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota
  1. Corresponding author: Peter C. Butler, pbutler{at}mednet.ucla.edu.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE We sought to establish β-cell mass, β-cell apoptosis, and β-cell replication in humans in response to obesity and advanced age.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS We examined human autopsy pancreas from 167 nondiabetic individuals 20–102 years of age. The effect of obesity on β-cell mass was examined in 53 lean and 61 obese subjects, and the effect of aging was examined in 106 lean subjects.

RESULTS β-Cell mass is increased by ∼50% with obesity (from 0.8 to 1.2 g). With advanced aging, the exocrine pancreas undergoes atrophy but β-cell mass is remarkably preserved. There is minimal β-cell replication or apoptosis in lean humans throughout life with no detectable changes with obesity or advanced age.

CONCLUSIONS β-Cell mass in human obesity increases by ∼50% by an increase in β-cell number, the source of which is unknown. β-Cell mass is well preserved in humans with advanced aging.

Footnotes

  • Received March 2, 2012.
  • Accepted June 28, 2012.

Readers may use this article as long as the work is properly cited, the use is educational and not for profit, and the work is not altered. See http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/ for details.

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  1. Diabetes Care vol. 36 no. 1 111-117
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