Proliferation of human β-cells in vitro is desirable for both transplantation and biological studies. In this study, human pancreatic islets obtained from cadavers were kept in tissue culture plates that favored cell attachment. When the cells attached to the matrix produced by the rat-bladder carcinoma cell line 804G, 5′-bromo-2′-deoxyuridine (BrdU) labeling increased from 4.7 ± 2.5 to 13.2 ± 2.2%, while cells simultaneously labeled for insulin and BrdU increased from 0 to 32%. Addition of the growth factor hepatocyte growth factor/scatter (HGF/SF) increased BrdU labeling to 17.5 ± 1.8 and the percentage of double positive (BrdU + insulin) cells to 69%. This is the first in vitro demonstration that human β-cells grown in monolayer culture are able to replicate when exposed to selected matrices and growth factors. These experiments add further evidence that HGF/SF is an important mitogenic agent for human β-cells.

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