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PLoS One. 2016 Jul 13;11(7):e0159276. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0159276. eCollection 2016.

Resolving Discrepant Findings on ANGPTL8 in β-Cell Proliferation: A Collaborative Approach to Resolving the Betatrophin Controversy.

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McNair Medical Institute, Pediatric Diabetes and Endocrinology, Baylor College of Medicine, Texas Children's Hospital, Houston, Texas, United States of America.
Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology, Harvard Stem Cell Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States of America.
Joslin Diabetes Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America.


The β-cell mitogenic effects of ANGPTL8 have been subjected to substantial debate. The original findings suggested that ANGPTL8 overexpression in mice induced a 17-fold increase in β-cell proliferation. Subsequent studies in mice contested this claim, but a more recent report in rats supported the original observations. These conflicting results might be explained by variable ANGPTL8 expression and differing methods of β-cell quantification. To resolve the controversy, three independent labs collaborated on a blinded study to test the effects of ANGPTL8 upon β-cell proliferation. Recombinant human betatrophin (hBT) fused to maltose binding protein (MBP) was delivered to mice by intravenous injection. The results demonstrate that ANGPTL8 does not stimulate significant β-cell proliferation. Each lab employed different methods for β-cell identification, resulting in variable quantification of β-cell proliferation and suggests a need for standardizing practices for β-cell quantification. We also observed a new action of ANGPTL8 in stimulating CD45+ hematopoietic-derived cell proliferation which may explain, in part, published discrepancies. Overall, the hypothesis that ANGPTL8 induces dramatic and specific β-cell proliferation can no longer be supported. However, while ANGPTL8 does not stimulate robust β-cell proliferation, the original experimental model using drug-induced (S961) insulin resistance was validated in subsequent studies, and thus still represents a robust system for studying signals that are either necessary or sufficient for β-cell expansion. As an added note, we would like to commend collaborative group efforts, with repetition of results and procedures in multiple laboratories, as an effective method to resolve discrepancies in the literature.

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