Expansion of beta-cell mass in response to pregnancy

Trends Endocrinol Metab. 2010 Mar;21(3):151-8. doi: 10.1016/j.tem.2009.11.001. Epub 2009 Dec 16.


Inadequate beta-cell mass can lead to insulin insufficiency and diabetes. During times of prolonged metabolic demand for insulin, the endocrine pancreas can respond by increasing beta-cell mass, both by increasing cell size and by changing the balance between beta-cell proliferation and apoptosis. In this paper, we review recent advances in our understanding of the mechanisms that control the adaptive expansion of beta-cell mass, focusing on the islet's response to pregnancy, a physiological state of insulin resistance. Functional characterization of factors controlling both beta-cell proliferation and survival might not only lead to the development of successful therapeutic strategies to enhance the response of the beta-cell to increased metabolic loads, but also improve islet transplantation regimens.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / genetics
  • Apoptosis / physiology
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cell Size
  • Diabetes Mellitus / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance / genetics
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells / cytology*
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells / metabolism
  • Models, Biological
  • Pregnancy