Department of Surgery - HUG & UNIGE
Cell Isolation and Transplantation lab, CMU, UNIGE
Our laboratory is first interested in understanding whether and how direct contacts between alpha and beta cells are involved in the hormonal secretion of these cells. By understanding the role of alpha to beta cell interactions in the function of the islets it will be possible to define whether this kind of interactions must be considered in the therapeutic approaches to cure diabetes, including islet transplantation and future innovative cell replacement therapies.
Our hypothesis is that the optimal function of islets depends strongly on adequate islet architecture and particularly of heterotypic interactions between alpha and beta cells. The alpha and beta cells have a function per se in regulating glucose homeostasis, but through the mediators they secrete or via direct intercellular contacts they may also regulate the function of the neighbouring cells. The major aim of our study is to investigate whether and how the specific distribution of these different types of cells in human islets and more specifically the direct heterotypic contacts between alpha and beta cells contribute to their correct functions, including glucagon and insulin secretion.
We are also interested in studying biosynthesis in islet cells. Total and specific protein synthesis (biosynthetic activity) is a process necessary for cells to maintain their differentiation, viability, replication and adequate function. Biosynthetic activity has been poorly studied in endocrine pancreas, particularly under pathological conditions and after islet transplantation. We hypothesize that a modification of total or specific protein synthesis could contribute to the development of diabetes and to the dysfunction of transplanted islets in the long term. In our project, we aim to assess whether and how the biosynthetic activity is modulated by metabolic demands in islet cells, and to study the possible changes occurring in diabetes and after islet transplantation.
- islet cell heterogeneity
- alpha-beta cell interactions