Increased Hormone-Negative Endocrine Cells in the Pancreas in Type 1 Diabetes

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Context and Objective:

Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is characterized by a β-cell deficit due to autoimmune inflammatory-mediated β-cell destruction. It has been proposed the deficit in β-cell mass in T1D may be in part due to β-cell degranulation to chromogranin-positive, hormone-negative (CPHN) cells.

Design, Setting, and Participants:

We investigated the frequency and distribution of CPHN cells in the pancreas of 15 individuals with T1D, 17 autoantibody-positive nondiabetic individuals, and 17 nondiabetic controls.


CPHN cells were present at a low frequency in the pancreas from nondiabetic and autoantibody-positive, brain-dead organ donors but are more frequently found in the pancreas from donors with T1D (islets: 1.11% ± 0.20% vs 0.26% ± 0.06 vs 0.27% ± 0.10% of islet endocrine cells, T1D vs autoantibody positive [AA+] vs nondiabetic [ND]; T1D vs AA+, and ND, P < .001). CPHN cells are most commonly found in the single cells and small clusters of endocrine cells rather than within established islets (clusters: 18.99% ± 2.09% vs 9.67% ± 1.49% vs 7.42% ± 1.26% of clustered endocrine cells, T1D vs AA+ vs ND; T1D vs AA+ and ND, P < .0001), mimicking the distribution present in neonatal pancreas.


From these observations, we conclude that CPHN cells are more frequent in T1D and, as in type 2 diabetes, are distributed in a pattern comparable with the neonatal pancreas, implying a possible attempted regeneration. In contrast to rodents, CPHN cells are insufficient to account for loss of β-cell mass in T1D.

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