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Supplying Islets

Cilia – hair-like projections – on blood vessel cells regulate revascularisation of transplanted pancreatic islets

16 January 2021

Supplying Islets

From spaghetti sauce to low-fat yoghurt, sugar turns up unexpectedly in many of our foods. When it enters your bloodstream, your pancreas quickly gets to work controlling your blood sugar levels by releasing insulin from its islet cells. Islet cell transplants are sometimes used to treat people with Type 1 diabetes, who can't make insulin. Transplant survival depends partly on revascularisation – restoring the blood supply to the transplant. Researchers investigate whether cell projections called cilia are important for this. Cilia on islet cells are already known to be important in insulin release. Now the team have looked at cilia on endothelial cells, which form blood vessels, using mutant mice with deformed cilia. Fluorescence microscopy of mutant mouse pancreas (pictured, right) showed reduced blood vessels (green) connecting islets (red) compared to normal mice (left). When mutant islets were transplanted into normal mice, revascularisation was delayed, revealing the importance of cilia in transplantation.

Written by Lux Fatimathas

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