The islets of Langerhans are complex tissues composed of several cell types that secrete hormones. Loss or dysfunction of the insulin-producing β cells leads to dysregulation of blood glucose levels, resulting in diabetes. A major goal in cellular engineering has been to generate β cells from stem cells for use in cell-based therapies. However, the presence of other cell types within these islets can mask important details about β cells when using population-level assays. Single-cell RNA sequencing has enabled transcriptional assessment of individual cells within mixed populations. These technologies allow for accurate assessment of specific cell types and subtypes of β cells. Studies investigating different stages of β-cell maturity have led to several insights into understanding islet development and diabetes pathology. Here, we highlight the key findings from the use of single-cell RNA sequencing on stem cell–derived and primary human islet cells found in different maturation and diabetic states.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-33
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Opinion in Biomedical Engineering
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • Diabetes
  • Islets
  • Single-cell RNA sequencing
  • Stem cells


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