Making β cells from adult tissues

Trends Endocrinol Metab. 2012 Jun;23(6):278-85. doi: 10.1016/j.tem.2012.03.005. Epub 2012 Apr 25.


β-Cell replacement represents an attractive prospect for diabetes therapy. Although much hope has been placed on derivation of insulin-producing cells from human pluripotent stem cells, this approach continues to face considerable challenges. Cells from adult human tissues, with both stem/progenitor and mature phenotypes, offer a possible alternative. This review summarizes recent progress in two major strategies based on this cell source, ex vivo expansion of human islet β cells and conversion of non-β cells into insulin-producing cells by nuclear reprogramming, and examines the obstacles that remain to be overcome for bringing these strategies closer to clinical application in diabetes therapy.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology*
  • Cellular Reprogramming
  • Diabetes Mellitus / physiopathology
  • Diabetes Mellitus / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells / cytology*
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells / physiology
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells / transplantation
  • Islets of Langerhans Transplantation / trends
  • Models, Animal
  • Pluripotent Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Pluripotent Stem Cells / physiology
  • Pluripotent Stem Cells / transplantation
  • Tissue Engineering / trends