Automated assessment of β-cell area and density per islet and patient using TMEM27 and BACE2 immunofluorescence staining in human pancreatic β-cells
Rechsteiner, Markus P.
Boehm, Bernhard O.
Spinas, Giatgen A.
Date of Issue2014
Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine
In this study we aimed to establish an unbiased automatic quantification pipeline to assess islet specific features such as β-cell area and density per islet based on immunofluorescence stainings. To determine these parameters, the in vivo protein expression levels of TMEM27 and BACE2 in pancreatic islets of 32 patients with type 2 diabetes (T2D) and in 28 non-diabetic individuals (ND) were used as input for the automated pipeline. The output of the automated pipeline was first compared to a previously developed manual area scoring system which takes into account the intensity of the staining as well as the percentage of cells which are stained within an islet. The median TMEM27 and BACE2 area scores of all islets investigated per patient correlated significantly with the manual scoring and with the median area score of insulin. Furthermore, the median area scores of TMEM27, BACE2 and insulin calculated from all T2D were significantly lower compared to the one of all ND. TMEM27, BACE2, and insulin area scores correlated as well in each individual tissue specimen. Moreover, islet size determined by costaining of glucagon and either TMEM27 or BACE2 and β-cell density based either on TMEM27 or BACE2 positive cells correlated significantly. Finally, the TMEM27 area score showed a positive correlation with BMI in ND and an inverse pattern in T2D. In summary, automated quantification outperforms manual scoring by reducing time and individual bias. The simultaneous changes of TMEM27, BACE2, and insulin in the majority of the β–cells suggest that these proteins reflect the total number of functional insulin producing β–cells. Additionally, β–cell subpopulations may be identified which are positive for TMEM27, BACE2 or insulin only. Thus, the cumulative assessment of all three markers may provide further information about the real β–cell number per islet.
© 2014 Rechsteiner et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.