Dr. Xiaojuan Chen's Research

Research Summary

      The Chen laboratory utilizes islet transplantation models to explore areas of islet cellular and molecular biology that are pertinent to the development of diabetes as well as to the improvement of islet transplantation for the treatment of type 1 diabetes. In addition, the laboratory aims to, by working closely with immunologists at the CCTI, develop clinically applicable strategies for the induction of donor specific transplantation tolerance in patients. Current lines of investigation include:

  • Studies on the induction of specific tolerance to allogeneic islet transplants by an approach which utilizes mixed bone marrow chimerism and Treg.
  • Studies on developing approaches that optimize islet cell survival and function during islet processing, culture and engraftment.
  • Studies on the physiology of human islet alpha cells including their reprogramming potential under hyperglycemia in vivo as part of an effort in developing strategies that mimic the response to physiological or pathophysiological conditions that drive islet beta cell neogenesis.
  • Studies on islet beta cell replication including the mechanisms and the limiting factors involved. These studies will allow us to gain greater insights into the fundamental physiological mechanisms that govern the normal growth and functioning of pancreatic islets. In addition, it will provide a physiological basis to identify targets in signaling pathways that would be useful to design potential therapeutic strategies to generate new beta cells to prevent and/or cure type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

      The future goals of the laboratory are to pursue each of the areas in more depth both physiologically and mechanistically and to continually pinpoint areas of therapeutic potential, particularly in preventing islet dysfunction post-transplantation and during the development of diabetes as well as in preventing auto- and allo-immunity against islets.

Lab Members:

Baoyi Liu, MD

Selected Publications

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1- Chen X, Zhang X, Larson CS, Baker MS, Kaufman DB. Visualization of Islets after Transplantation and Early Detection of Graft Rejection by In Vivo Bioluminescence Imaging. Transplantation 2006, 81:1421-7.

2- Chen X, Zhang X, Larson CS, Kissler H, Kaufman DB. The epididymal fat pad as a transplant site for minimal islet mass. Transplantation 2007, 84(9):122-5.

3- Chen X, Zhang X, Larson CS, Xia G, Kaufman DB. Prolonging islet allograft survival using in vivo bioluminescence imaging to guide timing of anti-lymphocyte serum treatment of rejection. Transplantation 2008, 85(9):1246-52.

4- Chen X, Zhang X, Chen F, Larson CS, Wang L, Kaufman DB. Comparative study of regenerative potential of -cells from young and aged donor mice using a novel islet transplantation model. Transplantation 2009, 88(4):496-503.

5- Chen X, Larson CS, West J, Zhang X, Kaufman DB. In vivo detection of extra-pancreatic insulin gene expression in diabetic mice by bioluminescence imaging. PLoS ONE 2010; Feb 24, 5(2): e9397.

6- Rink SJ, McMahon KM, Chen X, Mirkin CA, Thaxton CS, Kaufman DB. 2010, Transfection of pancreatic islets using polyvalent DNA-functionalized gold nanoparticles. Surgery 2010;148:335-45.

7- Rink SJ, Chen X, Zhang X, Kaufman DB. Conditional and specific inhibition of NF-B in mouse pancreatic -cells prevents cytokine-induced deleterious effects and improves islet survival post-transplant. Surgery 2012; Feb;151(2):330-9. Epub 2011 Oct 6.