Human β-Cell Proliferation and Intracellular Signaling

Driving in the Dark Without a Road Map

  1. Andrew F. Stewart4
  1. 1Islet Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, Joslin Diabetes Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
  2. 2Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
  3. 3Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology, and Diabetes, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan
  4. 4Division of Endocrinology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  1. Corresponding authors: Rohit N. Kulkarni, rohit.kulkarni{at}, and Andrew F. Stewart, stewarta{at}


A major goal in diabetes research is to find ways to enhance the mass and function of insulin secreting β-cells in the endocrine pancreas to prevent and/or delay the onset or even reverse overt diabetes. In this Perspectives in Diabetes article, we highlight the contrast between the relatively large body of information that is available in regard to signaling pathways, proteins, and mechanisms that together provide a road map for efforts to regenerate β-cells in rodents versus the scant information in human β-cells. To reverse the state of ignorance regarding human β-cell signaling, we suggest a series of questions for consideration by the scientific community to construct a human β-cell proliferation road map. The hope is that the knowledge from the new studies will allow the community to move faster towards developing therapeutic approaches to enhance human β-cell mass in the long-term goal of preventing and/or curing type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

  • Received January 16, 2012.
  • Accepted April 25, 2012.

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