Expansion of mesenchymal stem cells from human pancreatic ductal epithelium

Lab Invest. 2006 Feb;86(2):141-53. doi: 10.1038/labinvest.3700377.


Fibroblast-like cells emerging from cultured human pancreatic endocrine and exocrine tissue have been reported. Although a thorough phenotypic characterization of these cells has not yet been carried out, these cells have been hypothesized to be contaminating fibroblasts, mesenchyme and/or possibly beta-cell progenitors. In this study, we expanded fibroblast-like cells from adult human exocrine pancreas following islet isolation and characterized these cells as mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) based on their cell surface antigen expression and ability to differentiate into mesoderm. Analysis by flow cytometry demonstrated that pancreatic MSCs express cell surface antigens used to define MSCs isolated from bone marrow such as CD13, CD29, CD44, CD49b, CD54, CD90 and CD105. In addition, utilizing protocols used to differentiate MSCs isolated from other somatic tissues, we successfully differentiated pancreatic MSCs into: (1) osteocytes that stained positive for alkaline phosphatase, collagen, mineralization (calcification) and expressed osteocalcin, (2) adipocytes that contained lipid inclusions and expressed fatty acid binding protein 4 and (3) chondrocytes that expressed aggrecan. We also demonstrated that pancreatic MSCs are multipotent and capable of deriving cells of endodermal origin. Pancreatic MSCs were differentiated into hepatocytes that stained positive for human serum albumin and expressed endoderm and liver-specific genes such as GATA 4 and tyrosine aminotransferase. In addition, preliminary protocols used to differentiate these cells into insulin-producing cells resulted in the expression of genes necessary for islet and beta-cell development such as Pax4 and neurogenin 3. Therefore, multipotent MSCs residing within the adult exocrine pancreas could represent a progenitor cell, which when further manipulated could result in the production of functional islet beta-cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, CD / immunology
  • Base Sequence
  • Cell Division*
  • DNA Primers
  • Epithelial Cells / cytology
  • Epithelial Cells / immunology
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Immunophenotyping
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / immunology
  • Pancreas / cytology*
  • Pancreas / immunology
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction


  • Antigens, CD
  • DNA Primers