Department of Physiology and Pathophysiology, School of Basic Medical Sciences Peking University Health Science Center, Key Laboratory of Cardiovascular Science of the Ministry of Education, Center for Non-coding RNA Medicine, Beijing 100191, China. Electronic address: [Email]
Diabetes is a chronic non-communicable disease affecting over 400 million people worldwide. Diabetic patients are at a high risk of various complications, such as cardiovascular, renal, and other diseases. The pathogenesis of diabetes (both type 1 and type 2 diabetes) is associated with a functional impairment of pancreatic β-cells. Consequently, most efforts to manage and prevent diabetes have focused on preserving β-cells and their function. Advances in imaging techniques, such as magnetic resonance imaging, magnetic resonance spectroscopy, positron emission tomography, and single-photon-emission computed tomography, have enabled noninvasive and quantitative detection and characterization of the population and function of β-cells in vivo. These advantages aid in defining and monitoring the progress of diabetes and determining the efficacy of anti-diabetic therapies. Beyond β-cell targeting, molecular imaging of biomarkers associated with the development of diabetes, e.g., lymphocyte infiltration, insulitis, and metabolic changes, may also be a promising strategy for early detection of diabetes, monitoring its progression, and occurrence of complications, as well as facilitating exploration of new therapeutic interventions. Moreover, molecular imaging of glucose uptake, production and excretion in specified tissues is critical for understanding the pathogenesis of diabetes. In the current review, we summarize and discuss recent advances in noninvasive imaging technologies for imaging of biomarkers beyond β-cells for early diagnosis of diabetes, investigation of glucose metabolism, and precise diagnosis and monitoring of diabetic complications for better management of diabetic patients.