[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Efficient stimulation of cycling activity in cultured beta cells would allow the design of new strategies for cell therapy in diabetes. Neural crest stem cells (NCSCs) play a role in beta cell development and maturation and increase the beta cell number in co-transplants. The mechanism behind NCSC-induced beta cell proliferation and the functional capacity of the new beta cells is not known.
We developed a new in vitro co-culture system that enables the dissection of the elements that control the cellular interactions that lead to NCSC-dependent increase in islet beta cells.
Mouse NCSCs were cultured in vitro, first in medium that stimulated their proliferation, then under conditions that supported their differentiation. When mouse islet cells were cultured together with the NCSCs, more than 35% of the beta cells showed cycle activity. This labelling index is more than tenfold higher than control islets cultured without NCSCs. Beta cells that proliferated under these culture conditions were fully glucose responsive in terms of insulin secretion. NCSCs also induced beta cell proliferation in islets isolated from 1-year-old mice, but not in dissociated islet cells isolated from human donor pancreas tissue. To stimulate beta cell proliferation, NCSCs need to be in intimate contact with the beta cells.
Culture of islet cells in contact with NCSCs induces highly efficient beta cell proliferation. The reported culture system is an excellent platform for further dissection of the minimal set of factors needed to drive this process and explore its potential for translation to diabetes therapy.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Generating functional beta-cells by inducing their proliferation may provide new perspectives for cell therapy in diabetes. Transcription factor E2F1 controls G(1)- to S-phase transition during the cycling of many cell types and is required for pancreatic beta-cell growth and function. However, the consequences of overexpression of E2F1 in beta-cells are unknown.
The effects of E2F1 overexpression on beta-cell proliferation and function were analyzed in isolated rat beta-cells and in transgenic mice.
Adenovirus AdE2F1-mediated overexpression of E2F1 increased the proliferation of isolated primary rat beta-cells 20-fold but also enhanced beta-cell death. Coinfection with adenovirus AdAkt expressing a constitutively active form of Akt (protein kinase B) suppressed beta-cell death to control levels. At 48 h after infection, the total beta-cell number and insulin content were, respectively, 46 and 79% higher in AdE2F1+AdAkt-infected cultures compared with untreated. Conditional overexpression of E2F1 in mice resulted in a twofold increase of beta-cell proliferation and a 70% increase of pancreatic insulin content, but did not increase beta-cell mass. Glucose-challenged insulin release was increased, and the mice showed protection against toxin-induced diabetes.
Overexpression of E2F1, either in vitro or in vivo, can stimulate beta-cell proliferation activity. In vivo E2F1 expression significantly increases the insulin content and function of adult beta-cells, making it a strategic target for therapeutic manipulation of beta-cell function.