FGF-2b and h-PL transform duct and non-endocrine human pancreatic cells into endocrine insulin secreting cells by modulating differentiating genes

Giulia Donadel, Donatella Pastore, David Della-Morte, Barbara Capuani, Marco F. Lombardo, Francesca Pacifici, Marco Bugliani, Fabio A. Grieco, Piero Marchetti, Davide Lauro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Background: Diabetes mellitus (DM) is a multifactorial disease orphan of a cure. Regenerative medicine has been proposed as novel strategy for DM therapy. Human fibroblast growth factor (FGF)-2b controls β-cell clusters via autocrine action, and human placental lactogen (hPL)-A increases functional β-cells. We hypothesized whether FGF-2b/hPL-A treatment induces β-cell differentiation from ductal/non-endocrine precursor(s) by modulating specific genes expression. Methods: Human pancreatic ductal-cells (PANC-1) and non-endocrine pancreatic cells were treated with FGF-2b plus hPL-A at 500 ng/mL. Cytofluorimetry and Immunofluorescence have been performed to detect expression of endocrine, ductal and acinar markers. Bromodeoxyuridine incorporation and annexin-V quantified cells proliferation and apoptosis. Insulin secretion was assessed by RIA kit, and electron microscopy analyzed islet-like clusters. Results: Increase in PANC-1 duct cells de-differentiation into islet-like aggregates was observed after FGF-2b/hPL-A treatment showing ultrastructure typical of islets-aggregates. These clusters, after stimulation with FGF-2b/hPL-A, had significant (p < 0.05) increase in insulin, C-peptide, pancreatic and duodenal homeobox 1 (PDX-1), Nkx2.2, Nkx6.1, somatostatin, glucagon, and glucose transporter 2 (Glut-2), compared with control cells. Markers of PANC-1 (Cytokeratin-19, MUC-1, CA19-9) were decreased (p < 0.05). These aggregates after treatment with FGF-2b/hPL-A significantly reduced levels of apoptosis. Conclusions: FGF-2b and hPL-A are promising candidates for regenerative therapy in DM by inducing de-differentiation of stem cells modulating pivotal endocrine genes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2234
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Cellular differentiation
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Insulin release
  • Pancreatic β cells
  • Regenerative medicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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