Human pancreatic islets transfected to produce an inhibitor of TNF are protected against destruction by human leukocytes

T. Dobson, D. Fraga, C. Saba, M. Bryer-Ash, A. Osama Gaber, I. C. Gerling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


The objective of this study was to determine whether transfection of human islets with an adenovirus construct encoding an inhibitor of tumor necrosis factor (TNFi) was effective at limiting damage to beta cells induced by human peripheral blood leukocytes (huPBL). Human islets transfected with TNFi or control islets were transplanted under the kidney capsule of NOD-scid mice. After a 15-day engraftment period, half of the mice received injections of activated huPBL and half received buffer injections. Islet graft function was assessed by two different methods, both of which use a species-specific radioimmunoassay to determine human insulin. In some mice, insulin production following intraperitoneal glucose injection was determined in serum. In other mice, total graft insulin content was determined by acid ethanol extraction. Histochemical stains were performed on some kidneys at the termination of the experiment to evaluate graft presence, transgene expression and huPBL infiltration. In huPBL injected mice, graft performance was maintained in mice whose grafts were transfected with TNFi but declined substantially in control groups with sham transfected or β-galactosidase transfected islet grafts. Similar results were obtained using either glucose-stimulated insulin release or graft insulin content as a measure of graft survival. There was no significant difference in graft function between control groups receiving buffer injections, regardless of whether the islets had been transfected. Human leukocytes were found in all huPBL groups regardless of islet transfection status. We conclude that transfection of human islets with an adenovirus encoding TNFi protects beta cells from destruction induced by human leukocytes. The local production of TNFi does not prevent graft infiltration by leukocytes, only the destruction of grafts by the infiltrating leukocytes. These results raise the possibility that local expression of an inhibitor of the proinflammatory cytokine TNF-α may also prevent graft failure in clinical islet transplantation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)857-865
Number of pages9
JournalCell Transplantation
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2000


  • Cytokines
  • Graft survival
  • Islets
  • Transfection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology
  • Transplantation


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