IJMS, Vol. 20, Pages 4083: Human Fetal Bone Marrow-Derived Mesenchymal Stem Cells Promote the Proliferation and Differentiation of Pancreatic Progenitor Cells and the Engraftment Function of Islet-Like Cell Clusters (International Journal of Molecular Sciences)
Pancreatic progenitor cells (PPCs) are the primary source for all pancreatic cells, including beta-cells, and thus the proliferation and differentiation of PPCs into islet-like cell clusters (ICCs) opens an avenue to providing transplantable islets for diabetic patients. Meanwhile, mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) can enhance the development and function of different cell types of interest, but their role on PPCs remains unknown. We aimed to explore the mechanism-of-action whereby MSCs induce the in vitro and in vivo PPC/ICC development by means of our established co-culture system of human PPCs with human fetal bone marrow-derived MSCs. We examined the effect of MSC-conditioned medium on PPC proliferation and survival. Meanwhile, we studied the effect of MSC co-culture enhanced PPC/ICC function in vitro and in vivo co-/transplantation. Furthermore, we identified IGF1 as a critical factor responsible for the MSC effects on PPC differentiation and proliferation via IGF1-PI3K/Akt and IGF1-MEK/ERK1/2, respectively. In conclusion, our data indicate that MSCs stimulated the differentiation and proliferation of human PPCs via IGF1 signaling, and more importantly, promoted the in vivo engraftment function of ICCs. Taken together, our protocol may provide a mechanism-driven basis for the proliferation and differentiation of PPCs into clinically transplantable islets.