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Pancreatic stem/progenitor cells are a multipotent self-renewing population and are the potential surrogates in the cell replacement therapy of diabetes mellitus. However, lack of effective cell markers hampers the identification and characterization of pancreatic stem cells.


To explore whether plant lectins peanut agglutinin (PNA) and phaseolus vulgaris agglutinin (PHA) as well as the heat stable antigen (HAS) act as negative screening markers of pancreatic stem cells.


The binding of plant lectins (PNA, PHA) and HSA antibody on the cell surface of adult pancreas, developing pancreas and regenerating pancreas was studied through histochemistry and immunofluorescent staining method. The clustering of pancreatic cells according to negative screening molecules was analyzed through flow cytometry. The cell types got from different gates by fluorescence-activated cell sorting were studied through cell culture and observation.


PNA marked pancreatic acinar cells in embryonic and neonatal pancreata, but they did not mark undifferentiated progenitors and precursors, PHA bound most of the undifferentiated and differentiated embryonic pancreatic cells, and HSA marked differentiating and differentiated cells in embryonic pancreata. In adults, both PNA and PHA marked pancreatic acinar cells and partial ductal cells, but not insular cells. HSA could recognize acinar, ductal, vascular endothelial cells, blood cells, and ductal-like cells in the regenerating pancreata. PNA-/lowHSA-/low cells accounted for 1.6% of the total pancreatic cells. Through culturing the population of double low cells, they are rich in smaller, triangular or polygonal epithelial cells, and they could be continuously sub-cultured. Our results indicate that PNA and HSA as negative markers can get rid of most differentiated pancreatic cells and part of non-pancreatic cell types, thus enrich pancreatic stem cells.


Feng RC, Lang YH, Liang Y, Wu Y, Teng CB. Identification of marker molecules for negative screening of pancreatic stem cells. Zhongguo Zuzhi Gongcheng Yanjiu. 2013;17(10):1785-1792.

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