Virchows Archiv

, Volume 446, Issue 3, pp 232–238 | Cite as

Heterogeneity in distribution of amyloid-positive islets in type-2 diabetic patients

  • Cecilia M. Borromeo
  • Xavier Pottier
  • Peter A. In’t Veld
  • Miriam A. Pipeleers-Marichal
  • Leonard Kaufman
  • Daniel G. Pipeleers
  • Christiaan F. Van SchravendijkEmail author
Original Article


Amyloid-containing (A+) islets are characteristic for type-2 diabetes (T2D), but their abundance seems variable among patients. It is unclear whether the distribution of A+ islets follows a certain pattern or occurs randomly throughout the pancreatic organ. We investigated the topography of A+ islets in eight pancreata of T2D patients and eight sex- and age-matched non-diabetic subjects. Transversal sections of head, body and tail segments were stained with synaptophysin combined with Congo red to map/quantify islet tissue and amyloid. In the eight T2D pancreata, the overall percentage of A+ islets varied from 4% to 85%. Further analysis in body and tail indicated that peripheral regions exhibited higher percentages of A+ islets than central regions (averages of, respectively, 30% and 17%, P<0.05). Non-diabetic control pancreata also exhibited A+ islets, albeit at a 25-fold lower frequency; a tendency towards higher percentage of A+ islets in peripheral versus central regions was also observed. The higher percentage A+ islets in peripheral regions was associated with a higher density and relative islet over exocrine surface area. These observations on heterogeneity in abundance and distribution of A+ islets need consideration when sampling tissue for studies on human islet amyloidosis. The present methodology allows us to further investigate the susceptibility to amyloidosis of islets in peripheral regions of the pancreas.


Islet amyloid Type-2 diabetes Human pancreas Morphometry Islets of Langerhans 



The authors thank Dan Ardelean for performing the autopsies, as well as Geert Stangé and Nicole Buelens for technical assistance. This study was supported by the Flemish Research Foundation [Fonds voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (FWO)] (grants G.0358.03 and G.0376.97), the Belgian Science Policy (Interuniversity Attraction Poles Grant P5/17) and by the Research Council of the Flemish Free University of Brussels, VUB.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cecilia M. Borromeo
    • 1
  • Xavier Pottier
    • 1
  • Peter A. In’t Veld
    • 1
  • Miriam A. Pipeleers-Marichal
    • 1
  • Leonard Kaufman
    • 2
  • Daniel G. Pipeleers
    • 1
  • Christiaan F. Van Schravendijk
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Diabetes Research CentreBrussels Free University—VUBBrusselsBelgium
  2. 2.Department of Biostatistics and Medical InformaticsBrussels Free University—VUBBelgium

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