Human but not mouse islets transplanted into immunodeficient NSG mice effectively accumulate lipid droplets (LDs). Because chronic lipid exposure is associated with islet β-cell dysfunction, we investigated LD accumulation in the intact human and mouse pancreas over a range of ages and states of diabetes. Very few LDs were found in normal human juvenile pancreatic acinar and islet cells, with numbers subsequently increasing throughout adulthood. While accumulation appeared evenly distributed in postjuvenile acinar and islet cells in donors without diabetes, LDs were enriched in islet α- and β-cells from donors with type 2 diabetes (T2D). LDs were also found in the islet β-like cells produced from human embryonic cell-derived β-cell clusters. In contrast, LD accumulation was nearly undetectable in the adult rodent pancreas, even in hyperglycemic and hyperlipidemic models or 1.5-year-old mice. Taken together, there appear to be significant differences in pancreas islet cell lipid handling between species, and the human juvenile and adult cell populations. Moreover, our results suggest that LD enrichment could be impactful to T2D islet cell function.
© 2019 by the American Diabetes Association.