The identification of new sources of β cells is an important endeavor with therapeutic implications for diabetes. Insulin resistance, in physiological states such as pregnancy or in pathological states such as type 2 diabetes (T2D), is characterized by a compensatory increase in β cell mass. To explore the existence of a dynamic β cell reserve, we superimposed pregnancy on the liver-specific insulin receptor–KO (LIRKO) model of insulin resistance that already exhibits β cell hyperplasia and used lineage tracing to track the source of new β cells. Although both control and LIRKO mice displayed increased β cell mass in response to the relative insulin resistance of pregnancy, the further increase in mass in the latter supported a dynamic source that could be traced to pancreatic ducts. Two observations support the translational significance of these findings. First, NOD/SCID-γ LIRKO mice that became pregnant following cotransplantation of human islets and human ducts under the kidney capsule showed enhanced β cell proliferation and an increase in ductal cells positive for transcription factors expressed during β cell development. Second, we identified duct cells positive for immature β cell markers in pancreas sections from pregnant humans and in individuals with T2D. Taken together, during increased insulin demand, ductal cells contribute to the compensatory β cell pool by differentiation/neogenesis.
Ercument Dirice, Dario F. De Jesus, Sevim Kahraman, Giorgio Basile, Raymond W.S. Ng, Abdelfattah El Ouaamari, Adrian Kee Keong Teo, Shweta Bhatt, Jiang Hu, Rohit N. Kulkarni
The duct epithelium contributes to islet endocrine cell formation.