Laminin-1 promotes differentiation of fetal mouse pancreatic beta-cells.

  1. F X Jiang,
  2. D S Cram,
  3. H J DeAizpurua and
  4. L C Harrison
  1. Autoimmunity and Transplantation Division, The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, The Royal Melbourne Hospital, Parkville, Victoria, Australia.


    Extracellular factors that regulate the growth and differentiation of cell lineages in the pancreatic primordia are poorly understood. Identification of these factors for pancreatic islet beta-cells could open new avenues for the treatment of insulin-dependent diabetes. We developed a low cell density serum-free culture system for dissociated pancreatic cells from the 13.5-day mouse fetus and investigated the effects of extracellular matrix proteins on differentiation of islet cells. After 4 days in culture, total cell number decreased by two-thirds, but insulin-positive beta-cell number increased 10-fold. Both of collagens I and IV inhibited cell survival (by >50%), whereas fibronectin had no effect. In the presence of soluble laminin-1, however, the number of beta-cells increased linearly by 60-fold without an increase in the total cell number; glucagon-positive cell number was unchanged, and somatostatin and pancreatic polypeptide-positive cells were not detected. The effect of laminin-1 was completely blocked by a monoclonal rat anti-laminin-1 antibody. In the presence of laminin-1, the thymidine analogue, BrdU, was incorporated into only 2.5% of cells, which were mainly insulin-negative at days 1-3. Laminin-1 appeared, therefore, to induce differentiation of beta-cells from precursor cells in day-13.5 fetal pancreas. Laminin-1 was shown to be expressed in the epithelial basement membrane of the 13.5- to 17.5-day fetal pancreas. These findings provide the first evidence of a role for laminin-1 to promote differentiation of pancreatic beta-cells.

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