The authors exploited the finding that type 2 vesicular monoamine transporters (VMAT2) are expressed in human islet beta cells within the pancreas, as well as in tissues of the central nervous system. As the radioligand [11C]Dihydrotetrabenazine (DTBZ) binds specifically to VMAT2 and is currently used in clinical imaging of the brain, the authors were able to use DTBZ to estimate beta cell mass in rats with type 1 diabetes. In longitudinal PET studies, the authors saw a significant decline in pancreatic uptake of DTBZ that preceded the loss of glycemic control in the diabetic rat. These studies suggest that PET-based quantitation of VMAT2 receptors could provide a non-invasive measurement of beta cell mass that could be used to study the pathogenesis of diabetes and to monitor therapeutic interventions.
TITLE: Longitudinal noninvasive PET-based beta cell mass estimates in a spontaneous diabetes rat model
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