Concise review: in search of unlimited sources of functional human pancreatic beta cells

Stem Cells Transl Med. 2013 Jan;2(1):61-7. doi: 10.5966/sctm.2012-0120. Epub 2012 Dec 19.


It is well-established that insulin-producing pancreatic beta cells are central in diabetes. In type 1 diabetes, beta cells are destroyed by an autoimmune mechanism, whereas in type 2 diabetes, there is a decrease in functional beta-cell mass. In this context, studying beta cells is of major importance. Beta cells represent only 1% of total pancreatic cells and are found dispersed in the pancreatic gland. During the past decades, many tools and approaches have been developed to study rodent beta cells that efficiently pushed the field forward. However, rodent and human beta cells are not identical, and our knowledge of human beta cells has not progressed as quickly as our understanding of rodent beta cells. We believe that one of the reasons for this inefficient progress is the difficulty of accessing unlimited sources of functional human pancreatic beta cells. The main focus of this review concerns recent strategies to generate new sources of human pancreatic beta cells.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Diabetes Mellitus / pathology
  • Diabetes Mellitus / therapy
  • Humans
  • Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells / physiology
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Insulin Secretion
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells / metabolism
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells / physiology*
  • Pancreas / pathology
  • Regenerative Medicine


  • Insulin