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SHED Therapy – A Safe and Effective Means to Treat Type 2 Diabetes?

Review of "Therapeutic potential of stem cells from human exfoliated deciduous teeth infusion into patients with type 2 diabetes depends on basal lipid levels and islet function" from STEM CELLS Translational Medicine by Stuart P. Atkinson

Studies have established that dental pulp mesenchymal stem cells derived from either adult teeth (dental pulp stem cells [DPSCs]) or deciduous teeth (stem cells from human exfoliated deciduous teeth [SHEDs]) can form pancreatic islet cell clusters during in vitro culture [1, 2]. Furthermore, additional studies in rat models of type 2 diabetes support SHED-based cell therapies as a means to improve pancreatic islet β cell function and liver metabolism [3, 4]; therefore, these abundant and easy to isolate stem cells types may represent an exciting component of treatment approaches for diabetes in human patients.

To this end, researchers led by Songtao Shi (Sun Yat‐sen University, Guangzhou) and Qin Huang (Second Military Medical University, Shanghai, China) sought to assess the safety and effectiveness of allogenic SHED transplantation in type 2 diabetic patients and evaluate those factors regulating therapeutic efficacy, They now report their exciting findings in a recent STEM CELLS Translational Medicine article [5].

Li et al. infused twenty-four type 2 diabetes mellitus patients who routinely use insulin injections with three doses of highly-proliferative SHEDs over three months and studied the consequences for up to one year. The results of this analysis demonstrated that SHED therapy reduced signs of glycemia (as measured by a reduction in glycated serum protein and glycated hemoglobin levels) and fasting blood glucose levels. In addition, SHED therapy also prompted a reduction in blood glucose levels and an increase in insulin secretion (as measured by C‐peptide levels) after eating as well as a reduction in total and low‐density lipoprotein cholesterol levels in the blood.

Excitingly, an analysis of the twenty-two patients who completed the study evidenced a significant reduction in daily insulin use following SHED therapy, which represented the primary means of evaluating efficacy for this study. Encouragingly, three patients stopped using insulin following SHED infusions. In addition, further analysis of patient data identified biomarkers of SHED response, which may prove invaluable in improving patient outcomes; specifically, patients with high glycemia, reduced islet function, and high blood lipid levels displayed a poorer response to SHED therapy. Finally, while the study notes the overall safety of SHED therapy, infusions did associate with some minor side-effects in patients, such as transient fever, fatigue, or rash; however, all side-effects were easily resolved.

Overall, these findings suggest the safety and effectiveness of SHED therapy as a means to improve both glucose metabolism and islet function in type 2 diabetes mellitus patients.

For more on how stem cells from human exfoliated deciduous teeth may represent an effective means to treat human diabetic patients, stay tuned to the Stem Cells Portal!


  1. Govindasamy V, Ronald VS, Abdullah AN, et al., Differentiation of Dental Pulp Stem Cells into Islet-like Aggregates. Journal of Dental Research 2011;90:646-652.
  2. Kanafi MM, Rajeshwari YB, Gupta S, et al., Transplantation of islet-like cell clusters derived from human dental pulp stem cells restores normoglycemia in diabetic mice. Cytotherapy 2013;15:1228-1236.
  3. Rao N, Wang X, Zhai Y, et al., Stem cells from human exfoliated deciduous teeth ameliorate type II diabetic mellitus in Goto-Kakizaki rats. Diabetology & Metabolic Syndrome 2019;11:22.
  4. Xu Y, Chen J, Zhou H, et al., Effects and mechanism of stem cells from human exfoliated deciduous teeth combined with hyperbaric oxygen therapy in type 2 diabetic rats. Clinics 2020;75.
  5. Li W, Jiao X, Song J, et al., Therapeutic potential of stem cells from human exfoliated deciduous teeth infusion into patients with type 2 diabetes depends on basal lipid levels and islet function. STEM CELLS Translational Medicine 2021;10:956-967.