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 journalArticle

4 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 1 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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