Cellular stress drives pancreatic plasticity

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Science Translational Medicine  04 Feb 2015:
Vol. 7, Issue 273, pp. 273ps2
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3010577


Controversy has long surrounded research on pancreatic beta cell regeneration. Some groups have used nonphysiological experimental methodologies to build support for the existence of pancreatic progenitor cells within the adult pancreas that constantly replenish the beta cell pool; others argue strongly against this mode of regeneration. Recent research has reinvigorated enthusiasm for the harnessing of pancreatic plasticity for therapeutic application—for example, the transdifferentiation of human pancreatic exocrine cells into insulin-secreting beta-like cells in vitro; the conversion of mouse pancreatic acinar cells to beta-like cells in vivo via cytokine treatment; and the potential redifferentiation of dedifferentiated mouse beta cells in vivo. Here, we highlight key findings in this provocative field and provide a perspective on possible exploitation of human pancreatic plasticity for therapeutic beta cell regeneration.

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