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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2004 Apr 16;316(4):1094-100.

In vitro transdifferentiation of adult pancreatic acinar cells into insulin-expressing cells.

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Department of Internal Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea, Seoul, Republic of Korea.


Despite a recent breakthrough in human islet transplantation for treating diabetes mellitus, the limited availability of insulin-producing tissue is still a major obstacle. Here, we studied whether adult pancreatic acinar cells have the potential to transdifferentiate into islet or beta cells. Pancreatic acini were isolated from 7- to 8-weeks-old male Sprague-Dawley rats and cultured in suspension. Within 1 week, most of the acinar cells lost amylase expression and converted to cells with a duct cell phenotype. Insulin-positive cells were also observed, mainly at the periphery of the acini-derived spheroids. Insulin gene and protein expression was increased. Presence of a few insulin-positive cells coexpressing cytokeratins suggests that a spontaneous acinar to ductal cell transdifferentiation process was further going on towards beta cells. This study provides the first evidence that adult pancreatic acinar cells could be differentiated into insulin-expressing cells in vitro.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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