Mouse pancreatic islet in which the glucagon (purple)-producing alpha-cells have been labeled with a fluorescent tag (green). Some of them have started to produce insulin (red), and they appear as yellow (green-and-red merge). Image: UNIGE Pedro Luis Herrera
Pancreatic cells reprogram themselves to produce insulin - health science news

When applying an insulin receptor antagonist to block insulin signaling, one to five per cent of pancreatic alpha cells that normally produce glucagon start to synthesize insulin in mice, researchers found. Thus, insulin produced by pancreatic beta cells act as a break on insulin synthesis in alpha cells. This break is removed in diabetes type I, as beta cells stop synthesizing insulin and die. Such reprogramming could be explored further to try to restore insulin production in diabetes type I patients. On a broader level, this study shows that mature cells can change their function, even when they have already completely differentiated into a particular cell type.

Read the full story: University of Geneva
Scientific publication: Nature Cell Biology