Pancreas Organ Weight as a Potential Marker of Risk for T1D

This study from nPOD, the JDRF supported network for Pancreatic Organ Donors with Diabetes, examined pancreas size from individuals both with and without T1D. The investigators used 23 control pancreata from individuals without T1D, 8 T1D-free single islet autoantibody-positive donors and 20 from individuals with diagnosed T1D. The investigators studied the weight of donated pancreata in the 3 groups, controlling for other factors. The mean weight of pancreata from those without diabetes was 81.4 grams compared with 61.3 grams from the group positive for a single autoantibody only, and 44.9 grams from the T1D diagnosed group. While this study cannot determine whether a small pancreas is a cause or effect of T1D, the fact that the autoantibody-positive group had an interim pancreas size between the control and T1D groups suggests that early atrophy of the pancreas may be an important feature of T1D disease process that could be monitored.

Ramifications for Individuals with T1D:
This study suggests a possible mechanism involved in the disease process of T1D, namely pancreatic atrophy. Future studies should include validation of these findings as well as evaluation of potential mechanisms underlying this observation. Once elucidated, this mechanism may provide a pathway to prevent T1D and may have diagnostic potential by examining the size of a person’s pancreas in those at risk of T1D.

JDRF Involvement:
JDRF supported this study through nPOD.

Investigators and Institutions:
This study was led by Dr. Martha Campbell-Thompson at the University of Florida and Dr. John Kaddis at City of Hope.

Campbell-Thompson M, Wasserfall C, Montgomery EL, Atkinson MA, Kaddis JS. (2012) Pancreas organ weight in individuals with disease-associated autoantibodies at risk for type 1 diabetes. JAMA. 2012 Dec 12;308(22):2337-9. doi: 10.1001/jama.2012.15008.