Reporter islets in the eye reveal the plasticity of the endocrine pancreas

Erwin Ilegems, Andrea Dicker, Stephan Speier, Aarti Sharma, Alan Bahow, Patrick Karlsson Edlund, Ingo B. Leibiger, Per Olof Berggren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


The islets of Langerhans constitute the endocrine part of the pancreas and are responsible for maintenance of blood glucose homeostasis. They are deeply embedded in the exocrine pancreas, limiting their accessibility for functional studies. Understanding regulation of function and survival and assessing the clinical outcomes of individual treatment strategies for diabetes requires a monitoring system that continuously reports on the endocrine pancreas. We describe the application of a natural body window that successfully reports on the properties of in situ pancreatic islets. As proof of principle, we transplanted "reporter islets" into the anterior chamber of the eye of leptin-deficient mice. These islets displayed obesity-induced growth and vascularization patterns that were reversed by leptin treatment. Hence, reporter islets serve as optically accessible indicators of islet function in the pancreas, and also reflect the efficacy of specific treatment regimens aimed at regulating islet plasticity in vivo.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)20581-20586
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number51
StatePublished - Dec 17 2013


  • Beta cell mass
  • In vivo imaging
  • Islet grafts
  • Ob/ob mouse
  • Pharmacologic treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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