Noninvasive MRI of β-cell function using a Zn 2+-responsive contrast agent

Angelo J M Lubag, Luis M. De Leon-Rodriguez, Shawn C. Burgess, A. Dean Sherry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

112 Scopus citations


Elevation of postprandial glucose stimulates release of insulin from granules stored in pancreatic islet β-cells. We demonstrate here that divalent zinc ions coreleased with insulin from β-cells in response to high glucose are readily detected by MRI using the Zn 2+-responsive T 1 agent, GdDOTA-diBPEN. Image contrast was significantly enhanced in the mouse pancreas after injection of a bolus of glucose followed by a low dose of the Zn 2+ sensor. Images of the pancreas were not enhanced by the agent in mice without addition of glucose to stimulate insulin release, nor were images enhanced in streptozotocin-treated mice with or without added glucose. These observations are consistent with MRI detection of Zn 2+ released from β-cells only during glucose-stimulated insulin secretion. Images of mice fed a high-fat (60%) diet over a 12-wk period and subjected to this same imaging protocol showed a larger volume of contrast-enhanced pancreatic tissue, consistent with the expansion of pancreatic β-cell mass during fat accumulation and progression to type 2 diabetes. This MRI sensor offers the exciting potential for deep-tissue monitoring of β-cell function in vivo during development of type 2 diabetes or after implantation of islets in type I diabetic patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)18400-18405
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number45
StatePublished - Nov 8 2011


  • Functional imaging
  • Functional volume

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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