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Velasco M; Larqué C; Díaz-García C; Sanchez-Soto C; Hiriart M (2018)


Methods in Molecular Biology 1727():261-273
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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2018. In this chapter, we describe the methods used to culture mainly rat pancreatic beta cells. We consider necessary to use this approach to get more information about physiological, biophysical, and molecular biology characteristics of primary beta cells. Most of the literature published has been developed in murine and human beta-cell lines. However, there are many differences between tumoral cell lines and native cells because, in contrast to cell lines, primary cells do not divide. Moreover, cell lines can be in various stages of the cell cycle and thus have a different sensitivity to glucose, compared to primary cells. Finally, for these reasons, cell lines can be heterogeneous, as the primary cells are. The main problem in using primary beta cells is that despite that they are a majority within a culture they appear mixed with other kinds of pancreatic islet cells. If one needs to identify single cells or has an only beta-cell composition, it is necessary to process the sample further. For example, one may obtain an enriched population of beta cells using fluorescence-activated cell sorting or identify single cells with the reverse hemolytic plaque assay. The other problem is that cells change with time in culture, becoming old and losing some characteristics, and so must be used preferentially during the first week. The development of human beta-cell cultures is of importance in medicine because we hope one day to be able to transplant viable beta cells to patients with diabetes mellitus type 1.