An article published in a recent issue of “World Journal of Gastroenterology” describes the differentiation of rat pancreatic ductal epithelial cells into insulin-producing cells by the transfection of PDX-1. The cells may one day have the potential to be implanted into the pancreas, where insulin is produced in order to control the blood sugar level.

In recent years, though great efforts have been made to differentiate embryonic stem cells, pancreatic ductal epithelial multipotent progenitor cells and bone marrow stem cells into islet cells, the process of cell differentiation and growth is long. Moreover, the amount of islet cells of differentiation, and the insulin released by islets, is not enough to meet the clinical needs.

To shorten the process of differentiation and enhance the output of insulin-producing cells and increase the amount of insulin-releasing, Dr T. Liu and his colleagues at Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Hubei Province, China, transfected PDX-1 into primary pancreatic ductal epithelial cells and then differentiated the transfected cells into insulin-producing cells. In contrast, the expression of PDX-1 and insulin mRNA and protein were detectable in the transfected cells. Endogenous PDX-1 might play an important role during differentiation and the transfected cells can produce more insulin-releasing cells and release more insulin after induction.

The results of this study suggest a promising future for many diabetic patients who need islets transplantation. Due to the high percentage of diabetes mellitus and severe complications around the world, this case reported by Dr. Liu et al. may draw attention of diabetes researchers worldwide.

MEDICA.de; Source: World Journal of Gastroenterology