Current Diabetes Reports

, 19:48 | Cite as

How, When, and Where Do Human β-Cells Regenerate?

  • Giorgio BasileEmail author
  • Rohit N. Kulkarni
  • Noel G. Morgan
Pathogenesis of Type 1 Diabetes (A Pugliese and SJ Richardson, Section Editors)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Pathogenesis of Type 1 Diabetes


Purpose of Review

Pancreatic β-cells play a critical role in whole-body glucose homeostasis by regulating the release of insulin in response to minute by minute alterations in metabolic demand. As such, β-cells are staunchly resilient but there are circumstances where they can become functionally compromised or physically lost due to pathophysiological changes which culminate in overt hyperglycemia and diabetes.

Recent Findings

In humans, β-cell mass appears to be largely defined in the postnatal period and this early replicative and generative phase is followed by a refractory state which persists throughout life. Despite this, efforts to identify physiological and pharmacological factors which might re-initiate β-cell replication (or cause the replenishment of β-cells by neogenesis or transdifferentiation) are beginning to bear fruit.


Controlled manipulation of β-cell mass in humans still represents a holy grail for therapeutic intervention in diabetes, but progress is being made which may lead to ultimate success.


Proliferation Diabetes Transdifferentiation Islets of Langerhans β-Cell mass Ki67 


Funding Information

R.N.K. acknowledges support from the JDRF, and the National Institutes of Health Grants R01 DK067536, UC4 DK116278, and UC4 DK116255. N.G.M. is grateful for the support from Diabetes UK (project grants 15/0005156 and 16/0005480) and from JDRF (nPOD-V collaborative award 3-SRA-2017-492-A-N and strategic research award 2-SRA-2018-474-S-B).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Giorgio Basile
    • 1
    Email author
  • Rohit N. Kulkarni
    • 1
  • Noel G. Morgan
    • 2
  1. 1.Islet Cell and Regenerative Biology, Joslin Diabetes Center, Department of MedicineHarvard Medical School, Harvard Stem Cell InstituteBostonUSA
  2. 2.Institute of Biomedical & Clinical ScienceUniversity of Exeter Medical SchoolExeterUK

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