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Gene therapy could provide an effective treatment of diabetes. Previous studies have investigated the potential for several cell and tissue types to produce mature and active insulin. Gut K and L-cells could be potential candidate hosts for gene therapy because of their special features.
In this study, we isolated gut K and L-cells to compare the potential of both cell types to produce insulin when exposed to similar conditions. The isolated pure K and L-cells were transfected with recombinant plasmids encoding insulin and with specific promoters for K or L-cells. Insulin expression was studied in response to glucose or meat hydrolysate. We found that glucose and meat hydrolysate efficiently induced insulin secretion from K and L-cells. However, the effects of meat hydrolysate on insulin secretion were more potent in both cells compared with glucose. Results of enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays showed that L-cells secreted more insulin compared with K-cells regardless of the stimulator, although this difference was not statistically significant.
The responses of K and L-cells to stimulation with glucose or meat hydrolysate were generally comparable. Therefore, both K and L-cells show similar potential to be used as surrogate cells for insulin gene expression in vitro. The potential use of these cells for diabetic gene therapy warrants further investigation.