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Trends Endocrinol Metab. 2011 Jan;22(1):34-43. doi: 10.1016/j.tem.2010.09.004. Epub 2010 Nov 8.

β-cell regeneration: the pancreatic intrinsic faculty.

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Department of Cell Physiology and Metabolism, University of Geneva Faculty of Medicine, 1 rue Michel-Servet, 1211 Geneva 4, Switzerland.


Type I diabetes (T1D) patients rely on cumbersome chronic injections of insulin, making the development of alternate durable treatments a priority. The ability of the pancreas to generate new β-cells has been described in experimental diabetes models and, importantly, in infants with T1D. Here we discuss recent advances in identifying the origin of new β-cells after pancreatic injury, with and without inflammation, revealing a surprising degree of cell plasticity in the mature pancreas. In particular, the inducible selective near-total destruction of β-cells in healthy adult mice uncovers the intrinsic capacity of differentiated pancreatic cells to spontaneously reprogram to produce insulin. This opens new therapeutic possibilities because it implies that β-cells can differentiate endogenously, in depleted adults, from heterologous origins.

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