The eye as a novel in vivo imaging site for pancreatic β-cells

2010_04_22 Per-Olof Berggren - Professor, Vice Prefekt - Institutionen fšr MolekylŠr Medicin och Kirurgi (MMK), Sektionen fšr Rolf Luft Centrum,
Fotograf Ulf Sirborn, mobile +46 70 5505666
Per-Olof Berggren
The Rolf Luft Research Center for Diabetes and Endocrinology, Department of Molecular Medicine and Surgery, Karolinska Institutet, Sweden
10:40~11:25,November 20th, 2015



One of the important challenges in cell biology/cell physiology/cell pathology and signal-transduction of today is to translate in vitro findings to the living organism. The insulin-secreting pancreatic β-cell is situated within the endocrine pancreas, the islets of Langerhans, and is regulated by a large number of signals originating from the blood supply, autocrine, paracrine and endocrine feed-back loops but also signals generated from surrounding nerves. Hence, to understand overall signal-transduction in the β-cell under physiological conditions and why this is not functioning in diabetes, there is an immediate need for an in vivo approach where the molecular mechanisms regulating β-cell function and survival can be studied in the living organism non-invasively, longitudinally and at single-cell resolution. We have recently developed an experimental imaging platform allowing us to take this approach. We transplant pancreatic islets into the anterior chamber of the eye of mice, rats and monkeys for functional microscopic imaging. Because of its optical and structural properties, the eye is optimally suited as a natural body-window for non-invasive imaging. We have shown that, when transplanted into the anterior chamber of the eye, pancreatic islets become vascularized and innervated, are functional and various aspects of β-cell function and survival can be readily imaged. Comparison of the histology/morphology of islets transplanted into the eye with islets in the pancreas reveals no changes in islet composition, vascularization pattern and innervation patterns. Moreover, functional studies with regard to β-cell death, β-cell proliferation, islet vascularization and innervation clearly show that the engrafted islet in the anterior chamber of the eye serves as a representative of endogenous islets in the pancreas of the same animal. Novel aspects of this in vivo imaging approach involving metabolic islet imaging, reporter islet imaging, cell signaling, immune biology as well clinical islet transplantation will be discussed.




  • 1985 Appointed Associate professor in Medical Cell Biology
  • 1982-1983 the medical courses in medical microbiology, pathology, pharmacology, clinical physiology, clinical chemistry and clinical propedeutics were fullfilled at the University of Uppsala, Uppsala, Sweden.
  • 1982 Ph.D. in Medical Cell Biology in the same department Research fellow at the Department of Medical Cell Biology, University of Uppsala
  • 1976-1983 Research fellow at the Department of Medical Cell Biology, University of Uppsala
  • 1976.6 “Med kand” at the University of Umeå, Umeå, Sweden


Professional  Activities:


  • 2013.3-2015.2   Adjunct Professor, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Seoul National University College of Medicine, South Korea
  • 2013-present   Member Editorial Board of Diabetes & Metabolism Journal
  • 2013-present   Member of Editorial Board of CELLR4
  • 2012-present   Senior Research Investigator, Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College, London, UK
  • 2008.06.01-   Adjunct Professor at the Division of Molecular and Life Sciences, Pohang University of Science and Technology, Pohang, Korea
  • 2005-2008   Visiting Professor, University of Oxford, The John Radcliffe, Headington, Oxford, U.K
  • 2002-present   Visiting Research Professor, Mary Lou Held Professor of Diabetes Research, at the Diabetes Research Institute, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, FL
  • 1997-present   Professor and Head Cell Biology and Experimental Endocrinology, Department of Molecular Medicine and Surgery, Director The Rolf Luft Research Center for Diabetes and Endocrinology, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden