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J Biol Chem. 2008 Nov 14;283(46):31601-7. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M806597200. Epub 2008 Sep 9.

Generation of insulin-secreting islet-like clusters from human skin fibroblasts.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599-7295, USA.


Increasing evidence suggests that islet cell transplantation for patients with type I diabetes holds great promise for achieving insulin independence. However, the extreme shortage of matched organ donors and the necessity for chronic immunosuppression has made it impossible for this treatment to be used for the general diabetic population. Recent success in generating insulin-secreting islet-like cells from human embryonic stem (ES) cells, in combination with the success in deriving human ES cell-like induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells from human fibroblasts by defined factors, have raised the possibility that patient-specific insulin-secreting islet-like cells might be derived from somatic cells through cell fate reprogramming using defined factors. Here we confirm that human ES-like iPS cells can be derived from human skin cells by retroviral expression of OCT4, SOX2, c-MYC, and KLF4. Importantly, using a serum-free protocol, we successfully generated insulin-producing islet-like clusters (ILCs) from the iPS cells under feeder-free conditions. We demonstrate that, like human ES cells, skin fibroblast-derived iPS cells have the potential to be differentiated into islet-like clusters through definitive and pancreatic endoderm. The iPS-derived ILCs not only contain C-peptide-positive and glucagon-positive cells but also release C-peptide upon glucose stimulation. Thus, our study provides evidence that insulin-secreting ILCs can be generated from skin fibroblasts, raising the possibility that patient-specific iPS cells could potentially provide a treatment for diabetes in the future.

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