Improving islet transplantation by gene delivery of hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) and its downstream target, protein kinase B (PKB)/Akt
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- Fiaschi-Taesch, N., Stewart, A.F. & Garcia-Ocaña, A. Cell Biochem Biophys (2007) 48: 191. doi:10.1007/s12013-007-0024-7
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Clinical studies have demonstrated that islet transplantation may be a useful procedure to replace beta cell function in patients with Type 1 diabetes. Islet transplantation faces many challenges, including complications associated with the procedure itself, the toxicity of immunosuppression regimens, and to the loss of islet function and insulin-independence with time. Despite the current successes, and residual challenges, these studies have pointed out an enormous scarcity of islet tissue that precludes the use of islet transplantation in a clinical setting on a wider scale. To address this problem, many research groups are trying to identify different islet growth factors and intracellular molecules capable of improving islet graft survival and function, therefore reducing the number of islets needed for successful transplantation. Among these growth factors, hepatocyte growth factor (HGF), a factor known to improve transplantation of a variety of organs/cells, has shown promising results in increasing islet graft survival and reducing the number of islets needed for successful transplantation in four different rodent models of islet transplantation. Protein kinase B (PKB)/Akt, a pro-survival intracellular signaling molecule is known to be activated in the beta cell by several different growth factors, including HGF. PKB/Akt has also shown promising results for improving human islet graft survival and function in a minimal islet mass model of islet transplantation in diabetic SCID mice. Increasing our knowledge on how HGF, PKB/Akt and other emerging molecules work for improving islet transplantation may provide substrate for future therapeutic approaches aimed at increasing the number of patients in which beta cell function can be successfully replaced.