Analysis of Beta-Cell Gene Expression Reveals Inflammatory Signaling and Evidence of Dedifferentiation following Human Islet Isolation and Culture
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The stresses encountered during islet isolation and culture may have deleterious effects on beta-cell physiology. However, the biological response of human islet cells to isolation remains poorly characterized. A better understanding of the network of signaling pathways induced by islet isolation and culturing may lead to strategies aimed at improving islet graft survival and function. Laser capture microdissection (LCM) was used to extract beta-cell RNA from 1) intact pancreatic islets, 2) freshly isolated islets, 3) islets cultured for 3 days, and changes in gene expression were examined by microarray analysis. We identified a strong inflammatory response induced by islet isolation that continues during in-vitro culture manifested by upregulation of several cytokines and cytokine-receptors. The most highly upregulated gene, interleukin-8 (IL-8), was induced by 3.6-fold following islet isolation and 56-fold after 3 days in culture. Immunofluorescence studies showed that the majority of IL-8 was produced by beta-cells themselves. We also observed that several pancreas-specific transcription factors were down-regulated in cultured islets. Concordantly, several pancreatic progenitor cell-specific transcription factors like SOX4, SOX9, and ID2 were upregulated in cultured islets, suggesting progressive transformation of mature beta-cell phenotype toward an immature endocrine cell phenotype. Our findings suggest islet isolation and culture induces an inflammatory response and loss of the mature endocrine cell phenotype. A better understanding of the signals required to maintain a mature beta-cell phenotype may help improve the efficacy of islet transplantation.
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