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Cell Cycle. 2011 Jun 15;10(12):1921-7. Epub 2011 Jun 15.

Progenitor cell domains in the developing and adult pancreas.

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Departments of Pediatrics and Cellular and Molecular Medicine, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA, USA.


Unlike organs with defined stem cell compartments, such as the intestine, the pancreas has limited capacity to regenerate. The question of whether the adult pancreas harbors facultative stem/progenitor cells has been a prime subject of debate. Cumulative evidence from recent genetic lineage tracing studies, in which specific cell populations were marked and traced in adult mice, suggests that endocrine and acinar cells are no longer generated from progenitors in the adult pancreas. These studies further indicate that adult pancreatic ductal cells are not a source for endocrine cells following pancreatic injury, as previously suggested. Our own studies have shown that adult ductal cells reinitiate expression of some endocrine progenitor markers, including Ngn3, after injury by partial duct ligation (PDL), but that these cells do not undergo endocrine cell differentiation. Here, we present additional evidence that endocrine cells do not arise from ducts following b-cell ablation by streptozotocin or by a diphtheria toxin-expressing transgene or when b-cell ablation is combined with PDL. In this review, we discuss findings from recent lineage tracing studies of embryonic and adult pancreatic ductal cells. Based upon the combined evidence from these studies, we propose that multipotency is associated with a specific transcriptional signature.

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