Facilitating physiologic self-regeneration: A step beyond islet cell replacement

Academic Article


  • Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is an autoimmune disease, the clinical onset of which most frequently presents in children and adolescents who are genetically predisposed. T1D is characterized by specific insulin-producing beta cell destruction. The well-differentiated and specialized islet beta cells seem to physiologically retain the ability to compensate for the cells lost by reproducing themselves, whereas undifferentiated cell sources may help in generating new ones, even while the autoimmune process takes place. Diabetes clinical onset, i.e., establishment of a detectable, chronic hyperglycemia, occurs at a critical stage when autoimmunity, having acted for a while, supersedes the regenerative effort and reduces the number of beta cells below the physiologic threshold at which the produced insulin becomes insufficient for the body's needs. Clinical solutions aimed at avoiding cumbersome daily insulin administrations by the reestablishment of physiologic insulin production, like whole pancreas or pancreatic islet allotransplantation, are limited by the scarcity of pancreas donors and by the toxic effects of the immunosuppressive drugs administered to prevent rejection. However, new accumulating evidence suggests that, once autoimmunity is abrogated, the endocrine pancreas properties may be sufficient to allow the physiological regenerative process to restore endogenous insulin production, even after the disease has become clinically manifest. Knowledge of these properties of the endocrine pancreas suggests the testing of reliable and clinically translatable protocols for obliterating autoimmunity, thus allowing the regeneration of the patient's own endocrine cells. The safe induction of an autoimmunity-free status might become a new promising therapy for T1D. © 2006 Springer Science + Business Media, Inc.
  • Authors

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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Rood PPM; Bottino R; Balamurugan AN; Fan Y; Cooper DKC; Trucco M
  • Start Page

  • 227
  • End Page

  • 242
  • Volume

  • 23
  • Issue

  • 2