Open Access Open Badges Research article

Generation and characterization of human insulin-releasing cell lines

Leticia Labriola1, Maria G Peters2, Karin Krogh1, Iván Stigliano2, Letícia F Terra13, Cecilia Buchanan2, Marcel CC Machado4, Elisa Bal de Kier Joffé2, Lydia Puricelli2 and Mari C Sogayar13*

  • * Corresponding author: Mari C Sogayar

  • † Equal contributors

Author Affiliations

1 Nucleo de Terapia Celular e Molecular (NUCEL), Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo, SP, Brazil

2 "Angel. H. Roffo" Institute of Oncology, Research Area, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina

3 Instituto de Química, USP, São Paulo, Brasil

4 Cirurgia, Faculdade de Medicina, USP, São Paulo Brasil

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BMC Cell Biology 2009, 10:49  doi:10.1186/1471-2121-10-49

Published: 19 June 2009



The in vitro culture of insulinomas provides an attractive tool to study cell proliferation and insulin synthesis and secretion. However, only a few human beta cell lines have been described, with long-term passage resulting in loss of insulin secretion. Therefore, we set out to establish and characterize human insulin-releasing cell lines.


We generated ex-vivo primary cultures from two independent human insulinomas and from a human nesidioblastosis, all of which were cultured up to passage number 20. All cell lines secreted human insulin and C-peptide. These cell lines expressed neuroendocrine and islets markers, confirming the expression profile found in the biopsies. Although all beta cell lineages survived an anchorage independent culture, none of them were able to invade an extracellular matrix substrate.


We have established three human insulin-releasing cell lines which maintain antigenic characteristics and insulin secretion profiles of the original tumors. These cell lines represent valuable tools for the study of molecular events underlying beta cell function and dysfunction.