Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Astonishing regeneration potential of the pancreas

Date:
August 20, 2014
Source:
Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF)
Summary:
Up until puberty, the pancreas is more adaptable and possesses a greater potential for self-healing than had previously been assumed. Type-1 diabetes is caused by the loss of so-called pancreatic beta cells, the cells that produce the hormone insulin, which is essential for regulating the use of sugar in the body. Since beta cells do not regenerate, scientists have traditionally assumed that the loss of these cells is irreversible; indeed, diabetic patients require insulin injections for life.

Up until puberty, the pancreas is more adaptable and possesses a greater potential for self-healing than had previously been assumed. This is the conclusion reached by a study with mice funded through the National Research Programme "Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine" (NRP 63).

Related Articles


Approximately 40,000 persons in Switzerland suffer from type-1 diabetes. The illness is caused by the loss of so-called pancreatic beta cells, the cells that produce the hormone insulin, which is essential for regulating the use of sugar in the body. Since beta cells do not regenerate, scientists have traditionally assumed that the loss of these cells is irreversible; indeed, diabetic patients require insulin injections for life.

Previously unknown mechanism

Four years ago, the research team of Pedro Herrera (University of Geneva) first cast doubt on this assumption when they demonstrated that a few alpha cells in the pancreas of genetically modified diabetic mice changed into beta cells. Alpha cells normally produce the blood sugar-raising hormone glucagon, but in diabetic mice they started producing insulin instead. Herrera's team has now made a second discovery, which has just been published in the journal Nature: in prepubescent mice the pancreas is capable of compensating the loss of insulin-producing beta cells. "This is achieved by a mechanism unknown until now," says Herrera. The process involves the reversion of delta cells (which produce somatostatin, another pancreatic hormone) to a precursor-like cell state, with proliferation and later reconstitution of the populations of beta and delta cells.

In contrast to the conversion of alpha cells, which only concerns a small fraction of the alpha cell population, the new mechanism involving delta cell fate change is a more efficient way of offsetting the loss of beta cells and thus diabetes recovery. Yet while alpha cells can reprogram into insulin production also in old mice, the ability of delta cells to do so is limited and does not extend beyond puberty.

Human pancreas can regenerate too

Although Herrera's group has investigated the versatility of pancreatic cells in mice, several observations in diabetic patients suggest that the human pancreas is capable of transformation too. "The new mechanism shows that the pancreas is much more plastic and -- at least during childhood -- possesses a much greater potential for self-healing than we had previously assumed," says Herrera. "There is still a long way to go before diabetes patients might be able to benefit from these findings, but the discovery that delta cells have a high degree of plasticity points to a hitherto unsuspected option for therapeutic intervention."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Simona Chera, Delphine Baronnier, Luiza Ghila, Valentina Cigliola, Jan N. Jensen, Guoqiang Gu, Kenichiro Furuyama, Fabrizio Thorel, Fiona M. Gribble, Frank Reimann, Pedro L. Herrera. Diabetes recovery by age-dependent conversion of pancreatic δ-cells into insulin producers. Nature, 2014; DOI: 10.1038/nature13633

Cite This Page:

Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF). "Astonishing regeneration potential of the pancreas." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 August 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140820164406.htm>.
Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF). (2014, August 20). Astonishing regeneration potential of the pancreas. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140820164406.htm
Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF). "Astonishing regeneration potential of the pancreas." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140820164406.htm (accessed October 31, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, October 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Fauci Says Ebola Risk in US "essentially Zero"

Fauci Says Ebola Risk in US "essentially Zero"

AP (Oct. 30, 2014) NIAID Director Anthony Fauci said the risk of Ebola becoming an epidemic in the U.S. is essentially zero Thursday at the Washington Ideas Forum. He also said an Ebola vaccine will be tested in West Africa in the next few months. (Oct. 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Nurse Defies Ebola Quarantine With Bike Ride

Nurse Defies Ebola Quarantine With Bike Ride

AP (Oct. 30, 2014) A nurse who vowed to defy Maine's voluntary quarantine for health care workers who treated Ebola patients followed through on her promise Thursday, leaving her home for an hour-long bike ride. (Oct. 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pot-Infused Edibles Raise Concerns in Colorado

Pot-Infused Edibles Raise Concerns in Colorado

AFP (Oct. 30, 2014) Colorado may have legalized marijuana for recreational use, but the debate around the decision still continues, with a recent - failed - attempt to ban cannabis-infused edibles. Duration: 01:53 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
British Navy Ship Arrives in Sierra Leone With Ebola Aid

British Navy Ship Arrives in Sierra Leone With Ebola Aid

AFP (Oct. 30, 2014) The British ship RFA ARGUS arrived in Sierra Leone to deliver supplies and equipment to help the fight against Ebola. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins