Pluripotency-associated stem cell marker expression in proliferative cell cultures derived from adult human pancreas

Michael G White, Hussain R Al-Turaifi, Graham N Holliman, Ali Aldibbiat, Aiman Mahmoud, James A M Shaw
Journal of Endocrinology 2011, 211 (2): 169-76
The source of new β-cells in adult human pancreas remains incompletely elucidated with recent studies on rodents providing evidence for neogenesis from progenitor cells in addition to self-replication. The aim of this study was to investigate the expression of pluripotency-associated stem cell markers in proliferative cultures derived from adult human pancreas. Human pancreatic tissue was obtained from deceased donors following ethical approval and relative consent. Islet-enriched fraction was separated from the retrieved organ by digestion and density gradient centrifugation. Dissociated cells were seeded in adherent culture forming proliferative 'islet survivor cells' (ISCs). These were characterised at fifth passage by RT-PCR, immunofluorescence staining, FACS, western blot and transfection studies with an OCT4 promoter-driven reporter. Nuclear expression of the pluripotency-associated stem cell marker complex OCT4/SOX2/NANOG was confirmed in ISCs. The phenotype constituted ∼8% of the overall population. OCT4 biosynthesis was confirmed by western blot and activation of an exogenous OCT4 promoter. Co-expression of pluripotency-associated markers has been confirmed in proliferative primary cells derived from adult human pancreas. Further studies are required to elucidate whether these cells possess functional stem cell characteristics and assess potential for differentiation into pancreatic cell lineages including new β-cells.

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