(Re)generating Human Beta Cells: Status, Pitfalls, and Perspectives

Luc Baeyens, Marie Lemper, Willem Staels, Sofie De Groef, Nico De Leu, Yves Heremans, Michael S German, Harry Heimberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Diabetes mellitus results from disturbed glucose homeostasis due to an absolute (type 1) or relative (type 2) deficiency of insulin, a peptide hormone almost exclusively produced by the beta cells of the endocrine pancreas in a tightly regulated manner. Current therapy only delays disease progression through insulin injection and/or oral medications that increase insulin secretion or sensitivity, decrease hepatic glucose production, or promote glucosuria. These drugs have turned diabetes into a chronic disease as they do not solve the underlying beta cell defects or entirely prevent the long-term complications of hyperglycemia. Beta cell replacement through islet transplantation is a more physiological therapeutic alternative but is severely hampered by donor shortage and immune rejection. A curative strategy should combine newer approaches to immunomodulation with beta cell replacement. Success of this approach depends on the development of practical methods for generating beta cells, either in vitro or in situ through beta cell replication or beta cell differentiation. This review provides an overview of human beta cell generation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1143-1167
Number of pages25
JournalPhysiological Reviews
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2018


  • Animals
  • Cell Culture Techniques
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells/physiology
  • Regeneration


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