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Highly Efficient Differentiation of Human Pluripotent Stem Cells into Pancreatic Progenitors Co-expressing PDX1 and NKX6.1

  • Bushra Memon
  • Essam M. AbdelalimEmail author
Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology book series


Diabetes is a complex metabolic disorder, with no available treatment. Islet transplantation is currently practiced beta cell replacement therapy option, however, with major limitations. Human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) can be used as a scalable source for generation of insulin-secreting cells as hPSCs have high proliferative capacity and can differentiate into any tissue type. In vitro stepwise protocols have been designed for differentiating hPSCs into pancreatic lineages that finally give rise to beta cells; however, these hPSC-derived beta cells are dissimilar to adult human beta cells in key aspects of gene expression and functionality. Alternatively, pancreatic progenitors, when transplanted in the body, have been shown to mature into functional insulin-secreting beta cells, capable of reversing hyperglycemia. These pancreatic progenitors require the co-expression of PDX1, a transcription factor (TF) regulating pancreatic development, and NKX6.1, another TF key for beta cell maturation and function, to produce glucose-responsive beta cells. Given the crucial role played by NKX6.1, we optimized an in vitro differentiation protocol to enhance the generation of pancreatic progenitors co-expressing PDX1 and NKX6.1 by modulating cell density, matrix availability, and cellular dissociation.

Key words

hPSCs Differentiation Transcription factors Beta cells Protocol Cell therapy 



This work was funded by grants from Qatar Biomedical Research Institute (QBRI)/HBKU (Grant No. IGP 2014 009; IGP 2016 001).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Health and Life Sciences, Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU), Qatar Foundation (QF)DohaQatar
  2. 2.Diabetes Research Center, Qatar Biomedical Research Institute (QBRI), Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU), Qatar Foundation (QF)DohaQatar

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