Insulitis in Human Type 1 Diabetic Pancreas: From Stem Cell Grafting to Islet Organoids for a Successful Cell-Based Therapy

Cells. 2022 Dec 6;11(23):3941. doi: 10.3390/cells11233941.


Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is an autoimmune disease with immune cells' islet infiltration (called "insulitis"), which leads to beta cell loss. Despite being the critical element of T1D occurrence and pathogenesis, insulitis is often present in a limited percentage of islets, also at diagnosis. Therefore, it is needed to define reproducible methods to detect insulitis and beta-cell decline, to allow accurate and early diagnosis and to monitor therapy. However, this goal is still far due to the morphological aspect of islet microvasculature, which is rather dense and rich, and is considerably rearranged during insulitis. More studies on microvasculature are required to understand if contrast-enhanced ultrasound sonography measurements of pancreatic blood-flow dynamics may provide a clinically deployable predictive marker to predict disease progression and therapeutic reversal in pre-symptomatic T1D patients. Therefore, it is needed to clarify the relation between insulitis and the dynamics of β cell loss and with coexisting mechanisms of dysfunction, according to clinical stage, as well as the micro vessels' dynamics and microvasculature reorganization. Moreover, the ideal cell-based therapy of T1D should start from an early diagnosis allowing a sufficient isolation of specific Procr+ progenitors, followed by the generation and expansion of islet organoids, which could be transplanted coupled to an immune-regulatory therapy which will permit the maintenance of pancreatic islets and an effective and long-lasting insulitis reversal.

Keywords: beta cell; cell-based therapy; insulitis; organoids; stem cells; type 1 diabetes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1* / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells* / metabolism
  • Islets of Langerhans* / metabolism
  • Pancreas / pathology
  • Pancreatic Diseases*
  • Stem Cells / metabolism