Characterization of the Human Pancreas Side Population as a Potential Reservoir of Adult Stem Cells

Petra Augstein, Thomas Loudovaris, Esther Bandala-Sanchez, Peter Heinke, Gaetano Naselli, Lily Lee, Wayne J. Hawthorne, L. Jorge Góñez, Alana M. Neale, François Vaillant, Helen E. Thomas, Thomas W. Kay, Ilia Banakh, Leonard C. Harrison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Objectives The side population (SP) contains cells with stem cell/progenitor properties. Previously, we observed that the mouse pancreas SP expanded after pancreatic injury. We aimed to characterize the SP in human pancreas as a potential source of stem cells. Methods Human organ donor pancreata were fractionated into islets and exocrine tissue, enriched by tissue culture and dispersed into single cells. Cells were phenotyped by flow cytometry, and the SP was defined by efflux of fluorescent dye Hoechst 33342 visualized by ultraviolet excitation. Cells were flow sorted, and their colony-forming potential measured on feeder cells in culture. Results An SP was identified in islet and exocrine cells from human organ donors: 2 with type 1 diabetes, 3 with type 2 diabetes, and 28 without diabetes. Phenotyping revealed that exocrine SP cells had an epithelial origin, were enriched for carbohydrate antigen 19-9+ ductal cells expressing stem cell markers CD133 and CD26, and had greater colony-forming potential than non-SP cells. The exocrine SP was increased in a young adult with type 1 diabetes and ongoing islet autoimmunity. Conclusions The pancreatic exocrine SP is a potential reservoir of adult stem/progenitor cells, consistent with previous evidence that such cells are duct-derived and express CD133.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)25-34
Number of pages10
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • CA 19-9 - carbohydrate antigen 19-9
  • CFP - colony-forming potential
  • diabetes
  • DMEM - Dulbecco's modified Eagle medium
  • FCS - fetal calf serum
  • FSC - forward scatter
  • GAD Ab - antibodies to the islet autoantigen glutamic acid decarboxylase (molecular weight, 65,000 dalton isoform)
  • glutamic acid decarboxylase antibody
  • HT - human tonicity
  • human pancreas
  • organ donor
  • PI - propidium iodide
  • RT - room temperature
  • side population
  • SP - side population
  • SPc - side population cell
  • SSC - side scatter
  • stem cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Hepatology
  • Endocrinology


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