Molecular Endocrinology Laboratory

Our research seeks to understand how the pancreas responds to injury and to develop clinical approaches to restoring endocrine pancreatic function as a cell therapy for type I diabetes.

Our work has identified a cell type that is present in the adult human pancreas and is capable of generating cells that can produce the endocrine hormones insulin and glucagon. This “endocrine progenitor” cell is normally present at low levels in normal pancreas tissue. We focus on the mechanisms that regulate these cells in the body. This research may result in methods to enhance endocrine regeneration without removing tissue from the body, through targeted pharmacological approaches that enhance the number of endocrine progenitor cells.

Some of the anticipated outcomes of the research are methods to enhance endocrine pancreas regeneration as a treatment for type I diabetes and methods for the early detection of pancreas injury and disease.

Expression of hormones, chromogranin A and PDX1 by CD133+ cells following differentiation culture. A-F, Pancosphere differentiation.

  • A, Orthogonal analysis of PDX1 shown in magenta, scale bar is 10 microns.
  • B, C, Expression of insulin C-peptide (CPEP), green, glucagon (GLU) red, PDX1, white in pancospheres treated with mycophenolic acid. Scale bar is 10 microns and 100 microns in B and C, respectively. Inset in C is a higher magnification of the structure indicated by white lines.
  • D, coexpression of CPEP (green), CgA (red) and PDX1 (magenta) by cells within a pancosphere. Scale bar is 10 microns.
  • E, coexpression of GLU (green) and CgA (red) by cells within a pancosphere. Scale bar is 10 icrons. A-E, Nuclei stained with Hoechst 33342 stain (H) shown in blue, 1 m optical sections.
  • F, phase microscopic image of pancospheres. Scale bar is 50 microns.