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Pancreas regeneration

An Author Correction to this article was published on 20 June 2018

This article has been updated


The pancreas is made from two distinct components: the exocrine pancreas, a reservoir of digestive enzymes, and the endocrine islets, the source of the vital metabolic hormone insulin. Human islets possess limited regenerative ability; loss of islet β-cells in diseases such as type 1 diabetes requires therapeutic intervention. The leading strategy for restoration of β-cell mass is through the generation and transplantation of new β-cells derived from human pluripotent stem cells. Other approaches include stimulating endogenous β-cell proliferation, reprogramming non-β-cells to β-like cells, and harvesting islets from genetically engineered animals. Together these approaches form a rich pipeline of therapeutic development for pancreatic regeneration.

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Fig. 1: Natural regenerative responses of the endocrine pancreas.
Fig. 2: Regeneration of the exocrine pancreas.
Fig. 3: Therapeutic strategies for regeneration and repair of the endocrine pancreas.

Change history

  • 20 June 2018

    Change history: In this Insight Review, ‘1989’ has been changed to ‘1998’ in the sentence “This deep understanding of pancreatic development was put to the service of regenerative medicine in 1998, when human embryonic stem cells (hES cells) were successfully cultured and opened the door to developing methods of deriving pancreatic islets from hES cells66.”. This error has been corrected online.


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We apologize that we were unable to cite many studies owing to space limitations. We thank past and present members of our laboratories and colleagues for their insights and contributions. Q.Z. and D.A.M. receive support from National Institute of Health (NIH) and Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI), and D.A.M. from Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI).

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Q.Z. and D.A.M. wrote and edited the manuscript. Q.Z. prepared the figures.

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Correspondence to Qiao Zhou or Douglas A. Melton.

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D.A.M. is a founder of Semma Therapeutics Inc. Q.Z. declares no competing interests.

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Zhou, Q., Melton, D.A. Pancreas regeneration. Nature 557, 351–358 (2018).

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