• Jørn Nerup
  • Åke Lernmark
  • Joanne Scott


Early in this century several authors found the typical pathological lesion in patients dying from untreated ketotic diabetes mellitus to be mononuclear infiltration in and around the islets of Langerhans (Opie, 1901; Schmidt, 1902; Herbert, 1911). This lesion—later called insulitis (von Meyenburg, 1940)—was thought to be rather specific for ketosis-prone diabetes mellitus, but was occasionally seen in endocrine disorders, such as idiopathic Addison’s disease (Guttman, 1930). The existence of insulitis was rediscovered by Gepts in the 1960s (Gepts, 1965) and was further characterized as a lymphocytic infiltration occurring together with a selective loss of B cells. Thus, in analogy with, for instance, the chronic atrophic lymphocytic thyroiditis and the chronic atrophic lymphocytic adrenalitis seen in primary myxedema and idiopathic Addison’s disease, respectively, the lesion in young patients with insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) of recent onset might be characterized as a chronic, atrophic lymphocytic insulitis in which the B cell is the only endocrine cell type in the islet to disappear (Fig. 1).


Islet Cell Islet Cell Antibody IDDM Patient Islet Cell Cytoplasmic Antibody Islet Cell Surface Antibody 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jørn Nerup
    • 1
  • Åke Lernmark
    • 2
  • Joanne Scott
    • 2
  1. 1.Steno Memorial HospitalGentofteDenmark
  2. 2.Hagedorn Research LaboratoryGentofteDenmark

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