The Review of Diabetic Studies

The Quest for Tissue Stem Cells in the Pancreas and Other Organs, and their Application in Beta-Cell Replacement

Isabelle Houbracken, Luc Bouwens
Cell Differentiation Lab, Diabetes Research Center, Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Free University of Brussels), Laarbeeklaan 103, 1090 - Brussels, Belgium


Adult stem cell research has drawn a lot of attention by many researchers, due to its medical hope of cell replacement or regenerative therapy for diabetes patients. Despite the many research efforts to date, there is no consensus on the existence of stem cells in adult pancreas. Genetic lineage tracing experiments have put into serious doubt whether βcell neogenesis from stem/progenitor cells takes place postnatally. Different in vitro experiments have suggested centroacinar, ductal, acinar, stellate, or yet unidentified clonigenic cells as candidate β-cell progenitors. As in the rest of the adult stem cell field, sound and promising observations have been made. However, these observations still need to be replicated. As an alternative to committed stem/progenitor cells in the pancreas, transdifferentiation or lineage reprogramming of exocrine acinar and endocrine α-cells may be used to generate new β-cells. At present, it is unclear which approach is most medically promising. This article highlights the progress being made in knowledge about tissue stem cells, their existence and availability for therapy in diabetes. Particular attention is given to the assessment of methods to verify the existence of tissue stem cells.

stem cell · duct · progenitor · beta-cell · acinar · transdifferentiation · lineage tracing · reprogramming,.



Demosthenes Panagiotakos

Abbreviation Title

Rev Diabet Stud