Researchers at Vanderbilt Diabetes Research and Training Center and collaborators at Stanford University have found new insights into the juvenile human pancreatic islets cell proliferation and their molecular mechanisms. This study could lead to new treatments for diabetes. In diabetes, both type 1 and type 2, pancreatic islets (the beta cell clusters which produce insulin) are either destroyed or become dysfunctional which will lead to insulin deficiency. Insulin is an anabolic hormone and it regulates the blood glucose (sugar) levels. This study is one of its first kind, demonstrates the ability to stimulate human beta cells growth in living animal models. The research is published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation.
Viable human pancreatic islet cells samples were obtained from juveniles (aged 10 and under) and adults (aged 20-60). These pancreatic islet cells were transferred into a mouse model (without immune system) which facilitates the survival of human cells . A drug analogue of glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP 1) is used and it was found that only juvenile beta islets were stimulated but not the adult islet cells indicating this was an inherent property of juvenile pancreatic islets and not the pancreatic environment. From earlier studies, its known that beta cells growth reduces with age, to explore more about age-dependent proliferation, the research team examined the cellular signalling pathways.
Chunhua Dai, M.D. said, “We are studying these young islets in a manner that has really never been done before, Our hope is that this will lead to new insight into what is happening at the molecular level so we can use that knowledge to better treat diabetes.”