The simplest method for in vitro β-cell production from human adult stem cells

Differentiation. 2011 Oct;82(3):144-52. doi: 10.1016/j.diff.2011.06.003. Epub 2011 Jul 22.


Diabetes mellitus is a challenging autoimmune disease. Biomedical researchers are currently exploring efficient and effective ways to solve this challenge. The potential of stem cell therapies for treating diabetes represents one of the major focuses of current research on diabetes treatment. Here, we have attempted to differentiate adult stem cells from umbilical cord blood-derived mesenchymal cells (UCB-MSC), Wharton's jelly-derived mesenchymal stem cells (WJ-MSC) and amniotic epithelial stem cells (AE-SC) into insulin-producing cells. The serum-free protocol developed in this study resulted in the differentiation of cells into definitive endoderm, pancreatic foregut, pancreatic endoderm and, finally, pancreatic endocrine cells, which expressed the marker genes SOX17, PDX1, NGN3, NKX6.1, INS, GCG, and PPY, respectively. Detection of the expression of the gap junction-related gene connexin-36 (CX36) using RT-PCR provided conclusive evidence for insulin-producing cell differentiation. In addition to this RT-PCR result, insulin and C-peptide protein were detected by immunohistochemistry and ELISA. Glucose stimulation test results showed that significantly greater amounts of C-peptide and insulin were released from differentiated cells than from undifferentiated cells. In conclusion, the methods investigated in this study can be considered an effective and efficient means of obtaining insulin-producing cells from adult stem cells within a week.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Adult Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Adult Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • C-Peptide / metabolism
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells / cytology*
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells / metabolism
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / cytology
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Wharton Jelly / chemistry


  • Biomarkers
  • C-Peptide
  • Insulin
  • Glucose