Generation of islet-like cell aggregates from human non-pancreatic cancer cell lines

Mohammad Mahboob Kanafi, Murali Krishna Mamidi, Shalini Kashipathi Sureshbabu, Pradnya Shahani, Chandravanshi Bhawna, Sudha R. Warrier, Ramesh Bhonde

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)


To explore a novel source for the derivation of islets, we examined the differentiation potential of human non-pancreatic cancer cell lines, HeLa (cervical carcinoma cell line) and MCF-7 (breast cancer cell line). These cells were subjected to a serum-free, three-step sequential differentiation protocol which gave two distinct cell populations: single cells and cellular aggregates. Subsequent analysis confirmed their identity as pancreatic acinar cells and islet-like cell aggregates (ICAs), as evidenced by amylase secretion and diphenylthiocarbazone staining respectively. Reverse transcriptase-PCR and immunocytochemistry assessment of the ICAs revealed the expression of pancreatic specific markers Ngn-3, Glut-2, Pax-6 and Isl-1. These ICAs secreted insulin in response to glucose challenge, confirming their functionality. We propose that ICAs generated from HeLa and MCF-7 cell lines could form a promising in vitro platform of human islet equivalents (hIEQs) for diabetes research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)227-233
Number of pages7
JournalBiotechnology Letters
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 01-01-2015


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology
  • Medicine(all)

Cite this

Kanafi, M. M., Mamidi, M. K., Sureshbabu, S. K., Shahani, P., Bhawna, C., Warrier, S. R., & Bhonde, R. (2015). Generation of islet-like cell aggregates from human non-pancreatic cancer cell lines. Biotechnology Letters, 37(1), 227-233.