Insulin is expressed by enteroendocrine cells during human fetal development

Nat Med. 2021 Dec;27(12):2104-2107. doi: 10.1038/s41591-021-01586-1. Epub 2021 Dec 9.


Generation of beta cells via transdifferentiation of other cell types is a promising avenue for the treatment of diabetes. Here we reconstruct a single-cell atlas of the human fetal and neonatal small intestine. We identify a subset of fetal enteroendocrine K/L cells that express high levels of insulin and other beta cell genes. Our findings highlight a potential extra-pancreatic source of beta cells and expose its molecular blueprint.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Enteroendocrine Cells / metabolism*
  • Fetal Development*
  • Humans
  • Insulin / metabolism*


  • Insulin