beta-cell Regeneration: neogenesis, replication or both?

J Mol Med (Berl). 2008 Mar;86(3):247-58. doi: 10.1007/s00109-007-0259-1. Epub 2007 Oct 6.


Both type I and type II diabetes are characterized by beta-cell loss and dysfunction. Therefore, a major goal of diabetes therapy is to promote the formation of new beta-cells, either in vitro for transplantation or in vivo, i.e., beta-cell regeneration. The question of whether beta-cell regeneration occurs by replication of preexisting beta-cells or by neogenesis from a precursor within the pancreas is a major focus of interest. Lineage-tracing studies have found evidence only for beta-cell replication, while earlier studies based upon the appearance of insulin-positive cells in areas outside of islets formed the basis for the belief that neogenesis from precursors can occur in adult animals. Recently, we found that nonendocrine pancreatic epithelial cells could be induced to undergo endocrine differentiation under the influence of inductive factors from the human fetal pancreas. One possibility is that, similar to models of hepatocyte regeneration, beta-cells can arise either by neogenesis or replication, depending on the particular stimulus. Clearly, understanding the nature and control of beta-cell regeneration is critical for success in efforts to treat diabetes by beta-cell replacement.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Division
  • Cell Lineage
  • Humans
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells / cytology*
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells / physiology*
  • Organogenesis*
  • Regeneration*