Background. Difficulties with recovering and preserving pancreatic islets have hampered progress in islet transplantation. In previous in vitro studies, our laboratory successfully demonstrated that using serum-free medium for prolonged pancreatic islet culture allows postculture recovery ratios greater than those obtained with standard media with sustained in vitro islet function. The goal of this study was to determine whether culturing of islets in a modified serum-free medium (M-SFM) would sustain function in vivo. Methods. Islets were isolated from pancreata procured from 12 cadaveric organ donors and cultured in the M-SFM for up to 2 months, cryopreserved at -70°C within 1-3 days of isolation for 2 months, or placed in short-term culture (3-5 days) before their transplantation under the kidney capsule of nonobese diabetic-severe combined immunodeficient mice (n=4-7 per group/time point). In vivo islet function was assessed by measuring the production of human insulin and C-peptide over a period of 3-15 months. Results. After extended culture of islets in M-SFM for 1 or 2 months, transplanted islets maintained their viability, and in some instances in vivo function improved when compared with short-term cultured islets transplanted from the same preparation (P<0.01). Improvement was particularly evident for islets cultured for 1 month. Furthermore, when compared with cryopreserved preparations, early function (postoperative day 7) of islets from 1-month culture preparations was statistically better (P<0.05). Prolonged culture in M-SFM had no significant impact on long-term function, inasmuch as cultured islets functioned for more than 120 days. Conclusion. Thess data demonstrate that prolonged islet culture in M-SFM sustained viability and function, and in some instances had a positive effect on in vivo islet function, particularly in the 1-month cultures. No negative effect on long-term in vivo function was demonstrated in this study. Confirmation in clinical models utilizing extended (1-2 months) islet culture in M-SFM could significantly enhance islet transplantation by allowing the identification of best-matched recipients, pretransplantation recipient conditioning, and possible pretransplantation islet modifications to promote engraftment and prolonged graft function.
ASJC Scopus subject areas