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Ann Anat. 2006 Nov;188(6):503-17.

Adult pancreatic stem/progenitor cells spontaneously differentiate in vitro into multiple cell lineages and form teratoma-like structures.

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Fraunhofer-lnstitute of Biomedical Engineering, Group of Cell Differentiation and Cell Technology at the University of Lübeck, MFC Innovationscampus 1, Maria-Goeppert-Strasse 1, D-23538 Lübeck, Germany.


Cells isolated from pancreas have a remarkable potential for self-renewal and multilineage differentiation. We here present a comprehensive characterisation of stem/progenitor cells derived from exocrine parts of the adult rat pancreas. Using purified cells from either single colonies or even single-cell clones, we specifically demonstrate: (i) the cells contain the typical stem/progenitor cell markers alkaline phophatase, SSEA-1, Oct-4, CD9, Nestin, Pax6, CD44, a-Fetoprotein and Brachyury, demonstrated by immunocytochemistry and RT-PCR; (ii) the cells have the potential to differentiate into lineages of all three germ layers in vitro; (iii) a clonal analysis revealed that even cell lines derived from a single cell have stem/progenitor cell properties such as self-renewal and spontaneous differentiation into various cell lineages; (iv) the cells have the propensity to form three-dimensional, teratoma-like structures in vitro, which contain cells of different lineages; and (v) external stimuli can activate the generation of certain cell types. For instance, cells treated with retinoic acid show an increased expression of alpha-smooth muscle actin. These results suggest that exocrine glands, such as pancreas may be a potential source of adult stem/progenitor cells, suitable for cell therapy of degenerative diseases.

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