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Sci Rep. 2013;3:1185. doi: 10.1038/srep01185. Epub 2013 Jan 31.

Direct differentiation of hepatic stem-like WB cells into insulin-producing cells using small molecules.

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  • 1Department of Endocrinology, Chinese PLA General Hospital, Beijing, China.


Recent evidence suggests that experimental induction of hepatocytes into pancreatic cells provides new cell transplantation therapy prospects for type 1 diabetes mellitus. Stepwise differentiation from rat liver epithelial stem-like WB-F344 cells (WB cells) into functional insulin-secreting cells will identify key steps in β-cell development and may yet prove useful for transplantation therapy for diabetic patients. An essential step in this protocol was the generation of pancreatic precursor cell that express Pdx1 based on induction by a combination of 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine, trichostatin A, retinoic acid, and a mix of insulin, transferrin and selenite. The Pdx1-expressing cells express other pancreatic markers and contribute to endocrine cells in vitro and in vivo. This study indicates an efficient chemical protocol for differentiating WB cells into functional insulin-producing cells using small molecules, and represents a promising hepatocyte-based treatment for diabetes mellitus.

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