Pancreatic ? cells maintain glucose homeostasis through storage and release of insulin.
Diabetic patients exhibit drastic reduction and dysfunction in ? cell populations, which cannot be regenerated or restored.
Most of our current understanding of ? cell mass regulation comes from experiments done with murine ? cells; however, due to the limited availability of primary human ? cells in depth analysis on these cells has been a challenge.
In this issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation, Philippe Ravassard and colleagues at Hôpital Pitié Salpêtrière generated a conditionally immortalized human ? cell line (EndoC-?H2) that can be greatly expanded before inducing excision of the immortalizing transgenes. Following excision, gene expression profiles of EndoC-?H2 cells were similar to isolated human pancreatic islets. Furthermore, excised EndoC-?H2 cells produced and stored insulin, which was released upon glucose stimulation.
As representative human ? cells, EndoC-?H2 cell provide a unique tool to further examine human-specific ? cell properties and proliferation.
J Clin Invest. doi:10.1172/JCI72674.