A simple matter of life and death-the trials of postnatal Beta-cell mass regulation

Int J Endocrinol. 2012;2012:516718. doi: 10.1155/2012/516718. Epub 2012 Apr 22.

Abstract

Pancreatic beta-cells, which secrete the hormone insulin, are the key arbiters of glucose homeostasis. Defective beta-cell numbers and/or function underlie essentially all major forms of diabetes and must be restored if diabetes is to be cured. Thus, the identification of the molecular regulators of beta-cell mass and a better understanding of the processes of beta-cell differentiation and proliferation may provide further insight for the development of new therapeutic targets for diabetes. This review will focus on the principal hormones and nutrients, as well as downstream signalling pathways regulating beta-cell mass in the adult. Furthermore, we will also address more recently appreciated regulators of beta-cell mass, such as microRNAs.