Small molecule AT7867 proliferates PDX1-expressing pancreatic progenitor cells derived from human pluripotent stem cells

Stem Cell Res. 2017 Oct:24:61-68. doi: 10.1016/j.scr.2017.08.010. Epub 2017 Aug 17.


While pancreatic islet transplantation achieves insulin independence in type 1 diabetes (T1D) patients, its widespread application is limited by donor tissue scarcity. Pancreatic progenitor cells (PPCs) give rise to all cell types in the pancreas during development. PPCs derived from human pluripotent stem cells have been shown to differentiate into functional β cells both in vitro and in vivo, and to reverse hyperglycemia, at least in mice. Therefore, PPCs have great potential to serve as an alternative cell source for cell therapy, and the identification of compounds that facilitate PPC proliferation could provide stable and large-scale pancreatic cell preparation systems in clinical settings. Here, we developed and performed cell-based screens to identify small molecules that induce the proliferation of hiPSC-derived PDX1-expressing PPCs. The screening identified AT7867, which promoted PPC proliferation approximately five-fold within six days through the maintenance of a high Ki67+ cell ratio. The induced proliferation by AT7867 does not result in DNA damage, as revealed by pHH2AX staining, and is observed specifically in PPCs but not other cell types. The established platform utilizing small molecules for PPC proliferation may contribute to the development of cell therapy for T1D using a regenerative medicine approach.

Keywords: Diabetes; Induced pluripotent stem cell; Pancreatic progenitor cell; Proliferation; Small molecule.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Cell Differentiation / drug effects
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Homeodomain Proteins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells / metabolism
  • Pancreas / cytology*
  • Piperidines / chemistry
  • Piperidines / pharmacology*
  • Pluripotent Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Pluripotent Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Pyrazoles / chemistry
  • Pyrazoles / pharmacology*
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Small Molecule Libraries / analysis
  • Small Molecule Libraries / pharmacology*
  • Trans-Activators / metabolism*


  • AT 7867
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • Piperidines
  • Pyrazoles
  • Small Molecule Libraries
  • Trans-Activators
  • pancreatic and duodenal homeobox 1 protein