Heterogeneity in Mitotic Activity and Telomere Length Implies an Important Role of Young Islets in the Maintenance of Islet Mass in the Adult Pancreas

Multidisciplinary Research Center, Shantou University Medical School, Guangdong, China.
Endocrinology (Impact Factor: 4.5). 04/2009; 150(7):3058-66. DOI: 10.1210/en.2008-1731
Source: PubMed


Understanding the mechanisms of beta-cell dynamics in postnatal animals is central to cure diabetes. A major obstacle in evaluating the status of pancreatic cells is the lack of surface markers. Here we performed quantitative measurements of two internal markers to follow the developmental history of islets. One marker, cell-cycle activity, was established by measuring expression of Ki67 and the incorporation of 5-bromodeoxyuridine. The other marker, the aging process, was delineated by the determination of telomere length. Moreover, islet neogenesis, possibly from ductal precursors, was monitored by pancreatic duct labeling with an enhanced green fluorescence protein (EGFP) transgene. We found that islets from younger animals, on average, expressed higher Ki67 transcripts, displayed elevated 5-bromodeoxyuridine incorporation, and had longer telomeres. However, significant heterogeneity of these parameters was observed among islets from the same mouse. In contrast, the levels of proinsulin-1 transcripts in islets of different ages did not change significantly. Moreover, mitotic activities correlated significantly with telomere lengths of individual islets. Lastly, after 5.5 d pancreatic duct labeling, a few EGFP-positive islets could be identified in neonatal but not from adult pancreases. Compared with unlabeled control islets, EGFP-positive islets had higher mitotic activities and longer telomeres. The results suggest that islets are born at different time points during the embryonic and neonatal stages and imply that young islets might play an important role in the maintenance of islet mass in the adult pancreas.

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