, Volume 51, Issue 7, pp 1338-1339

In vitro expansion of human beta cells

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To the Editor: Expansion of beta cells from isolated adult human islets in tissue culture represents an attractive potential source of cells for cell therapy for diabetes. Evidence supports the regeneration of adult mouse beta cells in vivo from both insulin-producing cells [1, 2] and pancreatic duct cells [3], and recent analyses of autopsied human pancreatic tissue suggest that human islets may grow by beta cell replication [4]. However, assessment of beta cell proliferation in vitro is much harder, since the beta cell phenotype is rapidly lost [5, 6], making it difficult to determine whether the loss of beta cell markers in the expanded cells reflects beta cell dedifferentiation, or beta cell death accompanied by expansion of pancreatic cells from a non-beta cell origin. In genetic lineage-tracing studies using islets from transgenic mice, the specific labelling of beta cells with a fluorescent protein produced under the control of an ubiquitous promoter allowed tracking of mouse be