Pancreas homeostasis is based on replication of differentiated cells in order to maintain proper organ size and function under changing physiological demand. Recent studies suggest that acinar cells, the most abundant cell type in the pancreas, are facultative progenitors capable of reverting to embryonic-like multipotent progenitor cells under injury conditions associated with inflammation. In parallel, it is becoming apparent that within the endocrine pancreas, hormone-producing cells can lose or switch their identity under metabolic stress or in response to single gene mutations. This new view of pancreas dynamics suggests interesting links between pancreas regeneration and pathologies including diabetes and pancreatic cancer.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We thank Christopher Wright, Klaus Kaestner, Ben Stanger, Lori Sussel and Doris Stoffers for stimulating discussions and comments. Research in our laboratories is funded by grants from the Beta-Cell Biology Consortium, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, the European Research Council, EU/FP7 (BetaCellTherapy, grant 241883), the Helmsley trust, the Dutch friends of Hebrew University, the Diabetes Onderzoek Nederland foundation, and the I-CORE Program of the Planning and Budgeting Committee and The Israel Science Foundation #41.11. O.Z. is a New York Stem Cell Foundation-Druckenmiller Fellow.