New organs from our own tissues: liver-to-pancreas transdifferentiation

Trends Endocrinol Metab. 2003 Dec;14(10):460-6. doi: 10.1016/j.tem.2003.10.006.


Recent advances in pancreatic islet transplantation emphasize the potential of this approach for the long-term control of blood glucose levels in diabetic patients. However, tissue-replacement therapy will become widely available as a treatment for diabetes only when new sources of islets and insulin-producing cells are found. Here, we review recent evidence that documents the potential of mature liver as a source of tissue for generating a functional endocrine pancreas, by ectopic expression of pancreatic transcription and differentiation factors. When key events in the transconversion process have been identified, using the liver as a source of pancreatic tissue might provide a valuable approach for replacing impaired beta cell function in diabetics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Homeodomain Proteins*
  • Humans
  • Liver / physiology*
  • Liver Transplantation
  • Pancreas / physiology*
  • Pancreas Transplantation
  • Stem Cell Transplantation
  • Trans-Activators / biosynthesis
  • Trans-Activators / genetics


  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • Trans-Activators
  • pancreatic and duodenal homeobox 1 protein