Diabetes is a pandemic manifested through glucose dysregulation mediated by inadequate insulin secretion by beta cells. A beta cell replacement strategy would transform the treatment paradigm from pharmacologic glucose modulation to a genuine cure. Stem cells have emerged as a potential source for beta cell (β-cell) engineering. The detailed generation of functional β-cells from both embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cells has recently been described. Adult stem cells, including adipose derived, may also offer a therapeutic approach, but remain ill defined. In our study, we performed an in-depth assessment of insulin-producing beta cells generated from human adipose, irrespective of donor patient age, gender, and health status. Cellular transformation was confirmed using flow cytometry and single-cell imaging. Insulin secretion was observed with glucose stimulation and abrogated following palmitate exposure, a common free fatty acid implicated in human beta cell dysfunction. We used next-generation sequencing to explore gene expression changes before and after differentiation of patient-matched samples, which revealed more than 5,000 genes enriched. Adipose-derived beta cells displayed comparable gene expression to native β-cells. Pathway analysis demonstrated relevance to stem cell differentiation and pancreatic developmental processes, which are vital to cellular function, structural development, and regulation. We conclude that the functions associated with adipose derived beta cells are mediated through relevant changes in the transcriptome, which resemble those seen in native β-cell morphogenesis and maturation. Therefore, they may represent a viable option for the clinical translation of stem cell-based therapies in diabetes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1153-1170
Number of pages18
JournalStem Cells and Development
Issue number23
StatePublished - Dec 1 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Hematology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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