Associate Professor, Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering
Scientist, Toronto General Research Institute, University Health Network
Interaction between pancreatic islets and vascular endothelial cells is necessary for the maintenance of beta-cell mass and function. Aside from acting as a conduit for molecular oxygen, vascular endothelial cells in vivo secrete the majority of islet extracellular matrix (ECM). This ECM likely provides a permissive signal for beta-cell proliferation, contributing to the coordinated hyperplasia of these tissues during the early stages of Type 2 diabetes. This ECM also provides a reservoir for heparin binding growth factors that further modulate this hyperplasia, including fibroblast growth factor (FGF) and vascular endothelial growth factor-A (VEGF-A). We hypothesize that communication between beta-cells and vascular endothelial cells directs the proliferation and function of both tissues.