The Review of Diabetic Studies,2010,7,2,105-111.
Patients with type 1 diabetes, and most patients with type 2 diabetes, have associated hyperglycemia due to the absence or reduction of insulin production by pancreatic β-cells. Surgical resection of the pancreas may also cause insulindependent diabetes depending on the size of the remaining pancreas. Insulin therapy has greatly improved the quality of life of diabetic patients, but this method is inaccurate and requires lifelong treatment that only mitigates the symptoms. The successes achieved over the last few decades by the transplantation of whole pancreas and isolated islets suggest that diabetes can be cured by the replenishment of deficient β-cells. These observations are proof-of-principle and have intensified interest in treating diabetes by cell transplantation, and by the use of stem cells. Pancreatic stem/progenitor cells could be one of the sources for the treatment of diabetes. Islet neogenesis, the budding of new islets from pancreatic stem/progenitor cells located in or near pancreatic ducts, has long been assumed to be an active process in the postnatal pancreas. Several in vitro studies have shown that insulin-producing cells can be generated from adult pancreatic ductal tissues. Acinar cells may also be a potential source for differentiation into insulin-producing cells. This review describes recent progress on pancreatic stem/progenitor cell research for the treatment of diabetes.