In vitro dedifferentiation of fetal porcine pancreatic tissue prior to transplantation as islet-like cell clusters

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Journal Article
Cells Tissues Organs, 2001, 168 (3), pp. 158 - 169
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The fetal porcine pancreas under experimental conditions can be transplanted in the form of explants or islet-like cell clusters (ICCs) to normalize blood glucose levels in diabetic recipients. ICCs are released from the collagenase-digested pancreas and require a 4- to 5-day culture period for their complete formation. In order to maximize insulin producing β cell differentiation following transplantation, an understanding of ICC development is essential to utilize this alternative treatment for type 1 diabetes. In this study a role is proposed for exocrine cells in the generation of the multipotent pancreatic precursor cells during the culture period. Acinar cells undergo dedifferentiation during the initial stages of the culture period into multipotent pancreatic precusor cells, previously called protodifferentiated cells. The progressive loss of exocrine differentiation appears to involve rapid degranulation of zymogen granules by exocytosis and loss of the prominent secretory apparatus. These processes occur in parallel with a significant reduction in the expression of lipase in the period from day 0 to day 5 and simultaneously there is an increase in the epithelioid/ductal cell marker, cytokeratin 20. Using proliferating cell nuclear antigen, cell proliferation during the culture period does not appear to account for the increase in epithelioid/ductal cells. Further the rates of apoptosis and necrosis which were identified using the TUNEL technique and propidium iodide, respectively, do not appear to account for the reduction in exocrine cell numbers. Exocrine cell dedifferentiation appears to increase the pool of protodifferentiated cells which have the potential to develop into the insulin-producing β-cell population following transplantation into the diabetic recipient. Copyright © 2001 S. Karger AG, Basel.
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