Send to

Choose Destination
Diabetologia. 2004 Aug;47(8):1442-51. Epub 2004 Jul 29.

In vitro directed differentiation of mouse embryonic stem cells into insulin-producing cells.

Author information

Institute of Bioengineering, School of Medicine, Miguel Hernández University, San Juan Campus, Alicante, Spain.



We recently demonstrated that insulin-producing cells derived from embryonic stem cells normalise hyperglycaemia in transplanted diabetic mice. The differentiation and selection procedure, however, was successful in less than 5% of the assays performed. Thus, to improve its effectiveness, new strategies have been developed, which increase the number of islet cells or islet progenitors.


Mouse embryonic stem cells transfected with a plasmid containing the Nkx6.1 promoter gene followed by a neomycin-resistance gene, were cultured with factors known to participate in endocrine pancreatic development and factors that modulate signalling pathways involved in these processes. Neomycin was used to select the Nkx6.1-positive cells, which also express insulin. The transfected cells were differentiated using several exogenous agents, followed by selection of Nkx6.1-positive cells. The resulting cells were analysed for pancreatic gene and protein expression by immunocytochemistry, RT-PCR and radioimmunoassay. Also, proliferation assays were performed, as well as transplantation to streptozotocin-induced diabetic mice.


The protocols yielded cell cultures with approximately 20% of cells co-expressing insulin and Pdx-1. Cell trapping selection yielded an almost pure population of insulin-positive cells, which expressed the beta cell genes/proteins Pdx-1, Nkx6.1, insulin, glucokinase, GLUT-2 and Sur-1. Subsequent transplantation to streptozotocin-induced diabetic mice normalised their glycaemia during the time period of experimentation, proving the efficiency of the protocols.


These methods were both highly efficient and very reproducible, resulting in a new strategy to obtain insulin-containing cells from stem cells with a near 100% success rate, while actively promoting the maturation of the exocytotic machinery.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Springer
Loading ...
Support Center