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International Journal of Endocrinology
Volume 2012, Article ID 516718, 20 pages
Review Article

A Simple Matter of Life and Death—The Trials of Postnatal Beta-Cell Mass Regulation

School of Life Sciences, Warwick University, Gibbet Hill Road, Coventry CV4 7AL, UK

Received 15 November 2011; Accepted 31 December 2011

Academic Editor: Velayutham Kumaravel

Copyright © 2012 Elena Tarabra et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Pancreatic beta-cells, which secrete the hormone insulin, are the key arbiters of glucose homeostasis. Defective beta-cell numbers and/or function underlie essentially all major forms of diabetes and must be restored if diabetes is to be cured. Thus, the identification of the molecular regulators of beta-cell mass and a better understanding of the processes of beta-cell differentiation and proliferation may provide further insight for the development of new therapeutic targets for diabetes. This review will focus on the principal hormones and nutrients, as well as downstream signalling pathways regulating beta-cell mass in the adult. Furthermore, we will also address more recently appreciated regulators of beta-cell mass, such as microRNAs.