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Human adipose tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells differentiate into insulin, somatostatin, and glucagon expressing cells

Mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) from mouse bone marrow were shown to adopt a pancreatic endocrine phenotype in vitro and to reverse diabetes in an animal model. MSC from human bone marrow and adipose tissue represent very similar cell populations with comparable phenotypes. Adipose tissue is abundant and easily accessible and could thus also harbor cells with the potential to differentiate in insulin producing cells. We isolated human adipose tissue-derived MSC from four healthy donors. During the proliferation period, the cells expressed the stem cell markers nestin, ABCG2, SCF, Thy-1 as well as the pancreatic endocrine transcription factor Isl-1. The cells were induced to differentiate into a pancreatic endocrine phenotype by defined culture conditions within 3 days. Using quantitative PCR a down-regulation of ABCG2 and up-regulation of pancreatic developmental transcription factors Isl-1, Ipf-1, and Ngn3 were observed together with induction of the islet hormones insulin, glucagon, and somatostatin.