Research Papers: Pathology:

Maintaining human fetal pancreatic stellate cell function and proliferation require β1 integrin and collagen I matrix interactions

Bijun Chen, Jinming Li, George F. Fellows, Zilin Sun and Rennian Wang _

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Oncotarget. 2015; 6:14045-14059. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.4338

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Bijun Chen1,2,3, Jinming Li2,3, George F. Fellows4, Zilin Sun1 and Rennian Wang1,2,3

1 Department of Endocrinology, Zhongda Hospital, Institute of Diabetes, Medical School, Southeast University, Nanjing, Jiangsu, China

2 Children’s Health Research Institute, University of Western Ontario, London, ON, Canada

3 Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, University of Western Ontario, London, ON, Canada

4 Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Western Ontario, London, ON, Canada

Correspondence to:

Zilin Sun, email:

Rennian Wang, email:

Keywords: human fetal pancreatic stellate cells, integrins, extracellular matrix, signaling pathway

Received: April 05, 2015 Accepted: May 22, 2015 Published: June 02, 2015


Pancreatic stellate cells (PaSCs) are cells that are located around the acinar, ductal, and vasculature tissue of the rodent and human pancreas, and are responsible for regulating extracellular matrix (ECM) turnover and maintaining the architecture of pancreatic tissue. This study examines the contributions of integrin receptor signaling in human PaSC function and survival. Human PaSCs were isolated from pancreata collected during the 2nd trimester of pregnancy and identified by expression of stellate cell markers, ECM proteins and associated growth factors. Multiple integrins are found in isolated human PaSCs, with high levels of β1, α3 and α5. Cell adhesion and migration assays demonstrated that human PaSCs favour collagen I matrix, which enhanced PaSC proliferation and increased TGFβ1, CTGF and α3β1 integrin. Significant activation of FAK/ERK and AKT signaling pathways, and up-regulation of cyclin D1 protein levels, were observed within PaSCs cultured on collagen I matrix. Blocking β1 integrin significantly decreased PaSC adhesion, migration and proliferation, further complementing the aforementioned findings. This study demonstrates that interaction of β1 integrin with collagen I is required for the proliferation and function of human fetal PaSCs, which may contribute to the biomedical engineering of the ECM microenvironment needed for the efficient regulation of pancreatic development.

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