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Human Stem Cells Stimulate Insulin Production in Diabetic Mice

Transplantation of human stromal cells into diabetic mice stimulated native mouse beta cells to produce insulin, and the human cells were taken up into the animals’ glomerular epithelium. Dr. Darwin J. Prockop and colleagues at Tulane University in New Orleans, extracted multipotent stromal cells from human bone marrow and transplanted them into diabetic mice via intracardiac infusion.

Diabetes was induced beforehand, with 4 days of nephrotoxic doses of streptozotocin, causing severe hyperglycemia and a loss of function in B and T cells. Stromal cell transplantation was performed on days 10 and 17. A group of untreated diabetic mice served as controls.

Lower blood glucose levels were seen in treated mice by day 32 but not in untreated controls. On days 17 and 32, human DNA sequences were found only in the pancreas and kidneys of treated mice, except for traces in cardiac tissue near the infusion site.
Treated animals had an increase in pancreatic islets and beta cells that produced mouse insulin. Human cells were found in the glomeruli, with a decrease in mesangial thickening and a decrease in macrophage infiltration.

"A few of the human cells appeared to differentiate into glomerular epithelial cells," Dr. Prockop reports.

Dr. Prockop stated that, "In the (mouse) pancreas, the human cells promoted the regeneration of mouse cells that produce mouse insulin." "In the kidney, the human cells probably helped repair the damage that diabetes does to the kidneys. The cells were there after a month and we think they can probably last much longer."

Dr. Prockop said it is possible that multipotent stromal cell infusions may correct the metabolic disorders and heal some of the damage caused by diabetes in diabetic patients in the future.

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Proc Natl Acad Sci 2006;103:17438-17443.

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