Islet cell auto-transplantation is a novel strategy for maintaining blood glucose levels and
improving the quality of life in patients with chronic pancreatitis (CP). Despite the many recent advances
associated with this therapy, obtaining a good yield of islet infusate still remains a pressing
challenge. Reprogramming technology, by making use of the pancreatic exocrine compartment, can
open the possibility of generating novel insulin-producing cells. Several lineage-tracing studies present
evidence that exocrine cells undergo dedifferentiation into a progenitor-like state from which they can
be manipulated to form insulin-producing cells. This review will present an overview of recent reports
that demonstrate the potential of utilizing pancreatic ductal cells (PDCs) for reprogramming into insulin-
producing cells, focusing on the recent advances and the conflicting views. A large pool of ductal
cells is released along with islets during the human islet isolation process, but these cells are separated
from the pure islets during the purification process. By identifying and improving existing ductal cell
culture methods and developing a better understanding of mechanisms by which these cells can be manipulated
to form hormone-producing islet-like cells, PDCs could prove to be a strong clinical tool in
providing an alternative beta cell source, thus helping CP patients maintain their long-term glucose levels.
Keywords: Islets, ductal cells, auto-transplantation, neogenesis, chronic pancreatitis, cell reprogramming.
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