Human islets contain four distinct subtypes of β cells

Craig Dorrell, Jonathan Schug, Pamela S. Canaday, Holger A. Russ, Branden D. Tarlow, Maria T. Grompe, Tamara Horton, Matthias Hebrok, Philip R. Streeter, Klaus H. Kaestner, Markus Grompe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

242 Scopus citations


Human pancreatic islets of Langerhans contain five distinct endocrine cell types, each producing a characteristic hormone. The dysfunction or loss of the insulin-producing β cells causes diabetes mellitus, a disease that harms millions. Until now, β cells were generally regarded as a single, homogenous cell population. Here we identify four antigenically distinct subtypes of human β cells, which we refer to as β1-4, and which are distinguished by differential expression of ST8SIA1 and CD9. These subpopulations are always present in normal adult islets and have diverse gene expression profiles and distinct basal and glucose-stimulated insulin secretion. Importantly, the β cell subtype distribution is profoundly altered in type 2 diabetes. These data suggest that this antigenically defined β cell heterogeneity is functionally and likely medically relevant.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number11756
JournalNature communications
StatePublished - Jul 11 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • General
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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