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PLoS One. 2013 Aug 28;8(8):e72260. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0072260. eCollection 2013.

In vitro formation of β cell pseudoislets using islet-derived endothelial cells.

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Research Institute, Islet Biology, Winthrop-University Hospital, Mineola, New York, United States of America.


β cell pseudoislets (PIs) are used for the in vitro study of β-cells in a three-dimensional (3-D) configuration. Current methods of PI induction require unique culture conditions and extensive mechanical manipulations. Here we report a novel co-culture system consisting of high passage β-cells and islet-derived endothelial cells (iECs) that results in a rapid and spontaneous formation of free-floating PIs. PI structures were formed as early as 72 h following co-culture setup and were preserved for more than 14 d. These PIs, composed solely of β-cells, were similar in size to that of native islets and showed an increased percentage of proinsulin-positive cells, increased insulin gene expression in response to glucose stimulation, and restored glucose-stimulated insulin secretion when compared to β-cells cultured as monolayers. Key extracellular matrix proteins that were absent in β-cells cultured alone were deposited by iECs on PIs and were found in and around the PIs. iEC-induced PIs are a readily available tool for examining β cell function in a native 3-D configuration and can be used for examining β-cell/iEC interactions in vitro.

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