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High levels of aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) activity have been detected in various progenitor and stem cells. Thus, Aldefluor fluorescence, which represents precisely the ALDH activity, has been widely used for the identification, evaluation, and isolation of stem and progenitor cells. Recently, ALDH activity was detected in embryonic and adult mouse pancreas, specifically in adult centroacinar and terminal duct cells supposed to harbor endocrine and exocrine progenitor cells in the adult pancreas. Nevertheless, ALDH activity and aldeflour fluorescence have not been examined in beta cells. Here, we report a dynamic increase in the number of aldeflour+ beta cells during pregnancy. Interestingly, nearly all these aldeflour+ beta cells are positive for Ki-67, suggesting that they are in an active cell cycle (G1, S and M phases). To determine precisely at which phase beta cells activate ALDH activity and thus become aldeflour+, we co-stained insulin with additional proliferation markers, phosphohistone3 (PHH3, a marker for M-phase proliferating cells) and Bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU, a marker for S-phase proliferating cells). Our data show little aldeflour+ beta cells that were positive for either PHH3, or BrdU, suggesting that beta cells activate ALDH and become Aldefluor+ when they enter G1-phase of active cell cycle, but may downregulate ALDH when they leave G1-phase and enter S phase. Our data thus reveal a potential change in ALDH activity of proliferating beta cells during pregnancy, which provides a novel method for isolation and analysis of proliferating beta cells. Moreover, our data also suggest that caution needs to be taken on interpretation of Aldefluor lineage-tracing data in pancreas.
The results below are discovered through our pilot algorithms. Let us know how we are doing!