The use of stem cells in cell therapies has shown promising results in the treatment of
several diseases, including diabetes mellitus, in both humans and animals. Mesenchymal stem cells
(MSCs) can be isolated from various locations, including bone marrow, adipose tissues, synovia,
muscles, dental pulp, umbilical cords, and the placenta. In vitro, by manipulating the composition
of the culture medium or transfection, MSCs can differentiate into several cell lineages, including
insulin-producing cells (IPCs). Unlike osteogenic, chondrogenic, and adipogenic differentiation,
for which the culture medium and time are similar between studies, studies involving the induction
of MSC differentiation in IPCs differ greatly. This divergence is usually evident in relation to the
differentiation technique used, the composition of the culture medium, the cultivation time, which
can vary from a few hours to several months, and the number of steps to complete differentiation.
However, although there is no “gold standard” differentiation medium composition, most prominent
studies mention the use of nicotinamide, exedin-4, ß-mercaptoethanol, fibroblast growth factor
b (FGFb), and glucose in the culture medium to promote the differentiation of MSCs into IPCs.
Therefore, the purpose of this review is to investigate the stages of MSC differentiation into IPCs
both in vivo and in vitro, as well as address differentiation techniques and molecular actions and
mechanisms by which some substances, such as nicotinamide, exedin-4, ß-mercaptoethanol, FGFb,
and glucose, participate in the differentiation process.