Concise review: Mesenchymal stem cells for diabetes

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have already made their mark in the young field of regenerative medicine. Easily derived from many adult tissues, their therapeutic worth has already been validated for a number of conditions. Unlike embryonic stem cells, neither their procurement nor their use is deemed controversial. Here we review the potential use of MSCs for the treatment of type 1 diabetes mellitus, a devastating chronic disease in which the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas (the β-cells) are the target of an autoimmune process. It has been hypothesized that stem cell derived β-cells may be used to replenish the islet mass in diabetic patients, making islet transplantation (a form of cell therapy that has already proven effective at clinically restoring normoglycemia) available to millions of prospective patients. Here we review the most current advances in the design and application of protocols for the differentiation of transplantable β-cells, with a special emphasis in analyzing MSC potency according to their tissue of origin. Although no single method appears to be ripe enough for clinical trials yet, recent progress in reprogramming (a biotechnological breakthrough that relativizes the thus far insurmountable barriers between embryonal germ layers) bodes well for the rise of MSCs as a potential weapon of choice to develop personalized therapies for type 1 diabetes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)59-63
Number of pages5
JournalStem Cells Translational Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2012


  • Adult stem cells
  • Diabetes
  • Mesenchymal stem cells
  • Plasticity
  • Stem cell transplantation
  • Stem cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Medicine(all)


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