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A 3D atlas of the human developing pancreas to explore progenitor proliferation and differentiation – published online 17/04/2024

Villalba graphical abstract

Adrian Villalba, Yorick Gitton, Megumi Inoue, Virginie Aiello, Raphaël Blain, Maryne Toupin, Séverine Mazaud‑Guittot, Latif Rachdi, Henrik Semb, Alain Chédotal, Raphaël Scharfmann

Rodent models have provided extensive insights into pancreas development; however, the mechanisms underlying human pancreas formation have not been fully elucidated. In this issue, Villalba and Gitton et al (–024–06143–2) report how they integrated light-sheet fluorescent microscopy with tissue clearing to enable 3D visualisation of human embryonic and fetal pancreatic architecture. They first addressed the spatiotemporal distribution of early insulin-positive (beta) cells during the first trimester of human development. Their findings indicate that these early beta cells emerge around post-conception week 5, 2 weeks earlier than previously described. They are predominantly located in the inner part of the pancreas, suggesting a highly specialised niche for differentiation. Conversely, proliferating pancreatic progenitors are confined to the periphery, revealing a tissue regionalisation for the mechanisms of proliferation and differentiation. The authors conclude that this work represents a strong base to build a whole 3D atlas of the developing human pancreas.

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