PloS one 2018 01 1913(1) e0191528 doi 10.1371/journal.pone.0191528
BACKGROUND AND AIMS
Abnormal glucagon secretion and functional alterations of the exocrine pancreas have been described in patients with type 1 diabetes (T1D), but their respective anatomical substrata have seldom been investigated. Our aim was to develop an automated morphometric analysis process to characterize the anatomy of α-cell and exocrine pancreas in patients with T1D, using the publicly available slides of the Network for Pancreatic Organ Donors (nPOD).
MATERIALS AND METHODS
The ratio of β- and α-cell area to total tissue area were quantified in 75 patients with T1D (thereafter patients) and 66 control subjects (thereafter controls), on 2 insulin-stained and 4 glucagon-stained slides from both the head and the tail of the pancreas. The β- and α-cell masses were calculated in the 66 patients and the 50 controls for which the pancreas weight was available. Non-exocrine-non-endocrine tissue area (i.e. non-acinar, non-insular tissue) to total tissue area ratio was evaluated on both insulin- and glucagon-stained slides. Results were expressed as mean ±SD.
An automated quantification method was set up using the R software and was validated by quantification of β-cell mass, a well characterized parameter. β-cell mass was 29.6±112 mg in patients and 628 ±717 mg in controls (p<0.0001). α-cell mass was 181±176 mg in patients and 349 ±241mg in controls (p<0.0001). Non-exocrine-non-endocrine area to total tissue area ratio was 39±9% in patients and 29± 10% in controls (p<0.0001) and increased with age in both groups, with no correlation with diabetes duration in patients. CONCLUSION
The absolute α-cell mass was lower in patients compared to controls, in proportion to the decrease in pancreas weight observed in patients. Non-exocrine-non-endocrine area to total tissue area ratio increased with age in both groups but was higher in patients at all ages.