No Evidence for Mouse Pancreatic β-Cell Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition In Vitro

  1. Fouad Atouf,
  2. Cheol Hong Park,
  3. Klaus Pechhold,
  4. Malancha Ta,
  5. Yong Choi and
  6. Nadya L. Lumelsky
  1. From the Diabetes Branch, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases/National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland
  1. Address correspondence and reprint requests to Nadya Lumelsky, Center for Biotechnology and Innovation, National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research/National Institutes of Health, 45 Center Dr., Room 4An. 24J, Bethesda, MD 20892. E-mail: nadyal{at}


We used cre/loxP-based genetic lineage tracing analysis to test a previously proposed hypothesis that in vitro cultured adult pancreatic β-cells undergo epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) to generate a highly proliferative, differentiation-competent population of mesenchymal islet “progenitor” cells. Our results in the mouse that are likely to be directly relevant to the human system show that adult mouse β-cells do not undergo EMT in vitro and that the mesenchymal cells that arise in cultures of adult pancreas are not derived from β-cells. We argue that these cells most likely originate from expansion of mesenchymal cells integral to the heterogeneous pancreatic islet preparations. As such, these mesenchymal “progenitors” might not represent the best possible source for generation of physiologically competent β-cells for treatment of diabetes.


  • K.P. and M.T. contributed equally to this work.

  • Additional information for this article can be found in an online appendix at

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    • Accepted November 21, 2006.
    • Received October 14, 2006.
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