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Evaluation of insulin secretion by in vitro generated human islet-like clusters Liao, Yu Huan


Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which patients' insulin-secreting beta cells in pancreatic islets are destroyed by their own immune system, leading to unregulated blood glucose levels and severe complications. Its only treatment is intensive insulin therapy, which carries the risk of hypoglycemic episodes and can result in seizures, coma, and even death. Islet transplantation has recently become an alternative, albeit experimental, treatment for type 1 diabetes patients. More than one donor graft is usually required to render recipients insulin independent, making the shortage of donor tissue an extremely important challenge in islet transplantation. Identifying the cell type that has the ability to differentiate into islet-like tissue is an important area of study. In this study, I hypothesized that insulin secreting human islet-like clusters could be generated from pancreatic ductal cells, a potential pancreatic progenitor cell type. Islet-like clusters were generated using crude exocrine tissue from human cadaveric donors. This crude exocrine tissue contained a large number of ductal cells, as well as other pancreatic cell types. To evaluate insulin secretion by human islet-like clusters, a static incubation system was set up and tested using Min6 cells, a known insulin-secreting cell line. Using static incubation, significant increases in insulin secretion by islet-like clusters were observed when the clusters were exposed to higher glucose levels and GLP-1, a known insulin secretagogue. Presence of corresponding C-peptide secretion demonstrated that de novo insulin secretion occurred. Furthermore, basal insulin secretion increased as culture stages progressed. An attempt was made to generate islet-like clusters using ductal cells purified by fluorescent activated cell sorting or magnetic activated cell sorting. Nevertheless, it was difficult to ensure survival and proliferation of purified ductal cells. Further studies will be necessary to confirm the role of ductal cells in the generation of islet-like clusters using the crude exocrine tissue, as well as to identify factors that can promote ductal cells proliferation after cell sorting.

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