Human induced pluripotent stem cells differentiate into insulin-producing cells able to engraft in vivo

Silvia Pellegrini, Federica Ungaro, Alessia Mercalli, Raffaella Melzi, Guido Sebastiani, Francesco Dotta, Vania Broccoli, Lorenzo Piemonti, Valeria Sordi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aims: New sources of insulin-secreting cells are strongly required for the cure of diabetes. Recent successes in differentiating embryonic stem cells, in combination with the discovery that it is possible to derive human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) from somatic cells, have raised the possibility that patient-specific beta cells might be derived from patients through cell reprogramming and differentiation. In this study, we aimed to obtain insulin-producing cells from human iPSCs and test their ability to secrete insulin in vivo. Methods: Human iPSCs, derived from both fetal and adult fibroblasts, were differentiated in vitro into pancreas-committed cells and then transplanted into immunodeficient mice at two different stages of differentiation (posterior foregut and endocrine cells). Results: IPSCs were shown to differentiate in insulin-producing cells in vitro, following the stages of pancreatic organogenesis. At the end of the differentiation, the production of INSULIN mRNA was highly increased and 5 ± 2.9 % of the cell population became insulin-positive. Terminally differentiated cells also produced C-peptide in vitro in both basal and stimulated conditions. In vivo, mice transplanted with pancreatic cells secreted human C-peptide in response to glucose stimulus, but transplanted cells were observed to lose insulin secretion capacity during the time. At histological evaluation, the grafts resulted to be composed of a mixed population of cells containing mature pancreatic cells, but also pluripotent and some neuronal cells. Conclusion: These data overall suggest that human iPSCs have the potential to generate insulin-producing cells and that these differentiated cells can engraft and secrete insulin in vivo.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1025-1035
Number of pages11
JournalActa Diabetologica
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2015


  • Diabetes
  • Differentiation
  • Induced pluripotent stem cells
  • Insulin-producing cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


Dive into the research topics of 'Human induced pluripotent stem cells differentiate into insulin-producing cells able to engraft in vivo'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this