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Diabetes. 2005 Sep;54(9):2557-67.

Very slow turnover of beta-cells in aged adult mice.

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Division of Endocrinology, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, 3615 Civic Center Blvd., Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


Although many signaling pathways have been shown to promote beta-cell growth, surprisingly little is known about the normal life cycle of preexisting beta-cells or the signaling pathways required for beta-cell survival. Adult beta-cells have been speculated to have a finite life span, with ongoing adult beta-cell replication throughout life to replace lost cells. However, little solid evidence supports this idea. To more accurately measure adult beta-cell turnover, we performed continuous long-term labeling of proliferating cells with the DNA precursor analog 5-bromo-2-deoxyuridine (BrdU) in 1-year-old mice. We show that beta-cells of aged adult mice have extremely low rates of replication, with minimal evidence of turnover. Although some pancreatic components acquired BrdU label in a linear fashion, only 1 in approximately 1,400 adult beta-cells were found to undergo replication per day. We conclude that adult beta-cells are very long lived.

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