Gene therapy with neurogenin3, betacellulin and SOCS1 reverses diabetes in NOD mice

Gene Ther. 2015 Nov;22(11):876-82. doi: 10.1038/gt.2015.62. Epub 2015 Jul 14.


Islet transplantation for type 1 diabetes is limited by a shortage of donor islets and requirement for immunosuppression. We approached this problem by inducing in vivo islet neogenesis in non-obese diabetic (NOD) diabetic mice, a model of autoimmune diabetes. We demonstrate that gene therapy with helper-dependent adenovirus carrying neurogenin3 (Ngn3), an islet lineage-defining transcription factor, and betacellulin (Btc), an islet growth factor, leads to the induction of periportal insulin-positive cell clusters in the liver, which are rapidly destroyed. To specifically accord protection to these 'neo-islets' from cytokine-mediated destruction, we overexpressed suppressor of cytokine signaling 1 (SOCS1) gene, using a rat insulin promoter in combination with Ngn3 and Btc. With this approach, about half of diabetic mice attained euglycemia sustained for over 4 months, regain glucose tolerance and appropriate glucose-stimulated insulin secretion. Histological analysis revealed periportal islet hormone-expressing 'neo-islets' in treated mouse livers. Despite evidence of persistent 'insulitis' with activated T cells, these 'neo-islets' persist to maintain euglycemia. This therapy does not affect diabetogenicity of splenocytes, as they retain the ability to transfer diabetes. This study thus provides a proof-of-concept for engineering in vivo islet neogenesis with targeted resistance to cytokine-mediated destruction to provide a long-term reversal of diabetes in NOD mice.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adenoviridae / genetics
  • Animals
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors / biosynthesis
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors / genetics*
  • Betacellulin / biosynthesis
  • Betacellulin / genetics*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / genetics
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / metabolism
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / therapy*
  • Female
  • Genetic Therapy / methods*
  • Immunosuppression
  • Insulin / biosynthesis
  • Insulin / genetics
  • Islets of Langerhans / physiology
  • Islets of Langerhans Transplantation / methods
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred NOD
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / genetics*
  • Suppressor of Cytokine Signaling 1 Protein
  • Suppressor of Cytokine Signaling Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Suppressor of Cytokine Signaling Proteins / genetics*


  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors
  • Betacellulin
  • Insulin
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Neurog3 protein, mouse
  • Socs1 protein, mouse
  • Suppressor of Cytokine Signaling 1 Protein
  • Suppressor of Cytokine Signaling Proteins