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Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20(8), 1867;

Development and Characteristics of Pancreatic Epsilon Cells

Department of Regenerative Medicine and Transplantation, Faculty of Medicine, Fukuoka University, Fukuoka 814-0180, Japan
Center for Regenerative Medicine, Fukuoka University Hospital, Fukuoka 814-0180, Japan
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 4 April 2019 / Revised: 11 April 2019 / Accepted: 12 April 2019 / Published: 16 April 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pancreatic Islet Cell Biology and Islet Cell Development)
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Pancreatic endocrine cells expressing the ghrelin gene and producing the ghrelin hormone were first identified in 2002. These cells, named ε cells, were recognized as the fifth type of endocrine cells. Differentiation of ε cells is induced by various transcription factors, including Nk2 homeobox 2, paired box proteins Pax-4 and Pax6, and the aristaless-related homeobox. Ghrelin is generally considered to be a “hunger hormone” that stimulates the appetite and is produced mainly by the stomach. Although the population of ε cells is small in adults, they play important roles in regulating other endocrine cells, especially β cells, by releasing ghrelin. However, the roles of ghrelin in β cells are complex. Ghrelin contributes to increased blood glucose levels by suppressing insulin release from β cells and is also involved in the growth and proliferation of β cells and the prevention of β cell apoptosis. Despite increasing evidence and clarification of the mechanisms of ε cells over the last 20 years, many questions remain to be answered. In this review, we present the current evidence for the participation of ε cells in differentiation and clarify their characteristics by focusing on the roles of ghrelin. View Full-Text
Keywords: ε cell; ghrelin; pancreas; islet; endocrine cell; β cell; Nkx2.2; Pax4; Pax6; insulin ε cell; ghrelin; pancreas; islet; endocrine cell; β cell; Nkx2.2; Pax4; Pax6; insulin

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Sakata, N.; Yoshimatsu, G.; Kodama, S. Development and Characteristics of Pancreatic Epsilon Cells. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20, 1867.

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