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Stimulation of endogenous β-cell expansion could facilitate regeneration in patients with diabetes. In mice, connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) is expressed in embryonic β-cells and in adult β-cells during periods of expansion. We discovered that in embryos CTGF is necessary for β-cell proliferation, and increased CTGF in β-cells promotes proliferation of immature (MafA(-)) insulin-positive cells. CTGF overexpression, under nonstimulatory conditions, does not increase adult β-cell proliferation. In this study, we tested the ability of CTGF to promote β-cell proliferation and regeneration after partial β-cell destruction. β-Cell mass reaches 50% recovery after 4 weeks of CTGF treatment, primarily via increased β-cell proliferation, which is enhanced as early as 2 days of treatment. CTGF treatment increases the number of immature β-cells but promotes proliferation of both mature and immature β-cells. A shortened β-cell replication refractory period is also observed. CTGF treatment upregulates positive cell-cycle regulators and factors involved in β-cell proliferation, including hepatocyte growth factor, serotonin synthesis, and integrin β1. Ex vivo treatment of whole islets with recombinant human CTGF induces β-cell replication and gene expression changes consistent with those observed in vivo, demonstrating that CTGF acts directly on islets to promote β-cell replication. Thus, CTGF can induce replication of adult mouse β-cells given a permissive microenvironment.
© 2015 by the American Diabetes Association. Readers may use this article as long as the work is properly cited, the use is educational and not for profit, and the work is not altered.