Studies using mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) as a source of insulin-secreting cells (IPCs) are a promising path in the pursuit for diabetes therapy. Here, we investigate three short-term differentiation protocols in order to generate IPCs from autologous adipose-derived stromal cells (ADSCs) with an expressive insulin-secreting profile in vitro and in vivo, as well as the signaling pathways involved in the chosen differentiation protocols. We extracted and cultured ADSCs and differentiated them into IPCs, using three different protocols with different inductors. Afterwards, the secretory profile was analyzed and IPCs differentiated in exendin-4/activin A medium, which presented the best secretory profile, was implanted in the kidney subcapsular region of diabetic rats. All protocols induced the differentiation, but media supplemented with exendin-4/activin A or resveratrol induced the expression and secretion of insulin more efficiently, and only the exendin-4/activin-A-supplemented medium generated an insulin secretion profile more like β-cells, in response to glucose. The PI3K/Akt pathway seems to play a negative role in IPC differentiation; however, the differentiation of ADSCs with exendin-4/activin A positively modulated the p38/MAPK pathway. Resveratrol medium activated the Jak/STAT3 pathway and generated IPCs apparently less sensitive to insulin and insulin-like receptors. Finally, the implant of IPCs with the best secretory behavior caused a decrease in hyperglycemia after one-week implantation in diabetic rats. Our data provide further information regarding the generation of IPCs from ADSCs and strengthen evidence to support the use of MSCs in regenerative medicine, specially the use of exendin-4/activin A to produce rapid and effectively IPCs with significant in vivo effects.
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