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Generating pancreatic beta-cells from embryonic stem cells by manipulating signaling pathways

, : Generating pancreatic beta-cells from embryonic stem cells by manipulating signaling pathways. Journal of Endocrinology 206(1): 13-26

Type 1 diabetes results from an insufficiency of insulin production as a result of autoimmune destruction of the insulin-secreting pancreatic beta-cells. It can be treated by transplantation of islets of Langerhans from human donors, but widespread application of this therapy is restricted by the scarcity of donor tissue. Generation of functional beta-cells from embryonic stem (ES) cells in vitro could provide a source of an alternative graft material. Several ES cell differentiation protocols have reported the production of insulin-producing cells by mimicking the in vivo developmental stages of pancreatic organogenesis in which cells are transitioned through mesendoderm, definitive endoderm, foregut endoderm, pancreatic endoderm, and the endocrine precursor stage, until mature beta-cells are obtained. These studies provide proof of concept that recapitulating pancreatic development in vitro offers a useful strategy for generating beta-cells, but current differentiation protocols employ a bewildering variety of growth factors, mitogens, and pharmacological agents. In this review, we will attempt to clarify the functions of these agents in in vitro differentiation strategies by focusing on the intracellular signaling pathways through which they operate - phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase, transforming growth factor beta, Wnt/beta-catenin, Hedgehog, and Notch.


PMID: 20385725

DOI: 10.1677/JOE-10-0073

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