Journal of diabetes investigation

Enhanced differentiation of human amniotic fluid-derived stem cells into insulin-producing cells in vitro.

PMID 27240324


To investigate the ability of human amniotic fluid stem cells (hAFSCs) to differentiate into insulin-producing cells. hAFSCs were induced to differentiate into pancreatic cells by a multistep protocol. The expressions of pancreas-related genes and proteins, including pancreatic and duodenal homeobox-1, insulin, and glucose transporter 2, were detected by polymerase chain reaction and immunofluorescence. Insulin secreted from differentiated cells was tested by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. hAFSCs were successfully isolated from amniotic fluid that expressed the pluripotent markers of embryonic stem cells, such as Oct3/4, and mesenchymal stem cells, such as integrin β-1 and ecto-5'-nucleotidase. Here, we first obtained the hAFSCs that expressed pluripotent marker stage-specific embryonic antigen 1. Real-time polymerase chain reaction analysis showed that pancreatic and duodenal homeobox-1, paired box gene 4 and paired box gene 6 were expressed in the early phase of induction, and then stably expressed in the differentiated cells. The pancreas-related genes, such as insulin, glucokinase, glucose transporter 2 and Nkx6.1, were expressed in the differentiated cells. Immunofluorescence showed that these differentiated cells co-expressed insulin, C-peptide, and pancreatic and duodenal homeobox-1. Insulin was released in response to glucose stimulation in a manner similar to that of adult human islets. The present study showed that hAFSCs, under selective culture conditions, could differentiate into islet-like insulin-producing cells, which might be used as a potential source for transplantation in patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus.