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Tetracycline-Regulated Expression of VEGF-A in Beta Cells Induces Angiogenesis: Improvement of Engraftment Following Transplantation

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Early revascularization of pancreatic islet cells after transplantation is crucial for engraftment, and it has been suggested that vascular endothelial growth factor-A (VEGF-A) plays a significant role in this process. Although VEGF gene therapy can improve angiogenesis, uncontrolled VEGF secretion can lead to vascular tumor formation. Here we have explored the role of temporal VEGF expression, controlled by a tetracycline (TC)-regulated promoter, on revascularization and engraftment of genetically modified beta cells following transplantation. To this end, we modified the CDM3D beta cell line using a lentiviral vector to promote secretion of VEGF-A either in a TC-regulated (TET cells) or a constitutive (PGK cells) manner. VEGF secretion, angiogenesis, cell proliferation, and stimulated insulin secretion were assessed in vitro. VEGF secretion was increased in TET and PGK cells, and VEGF delivery resulted in angiogenesis, whereas addition of TC inhibited these processes. Insulin secretion by the three cell types was similar. We used a syngeneic mouse model of transplantation to assess the effects of this controlled VEGF expression in vivo. Time to normoglycemia, intraperitoneal glucose tolerance test, graft vascular density, and cellular mass were evaluated. Increased expression of VEGF resulted in significantly better revascularization and engraftment after transplantation when compared to control cells. In vivo, there was a significant increase in vascular density in grafted TET and PGK cells versus control cells. Moreover, the time for diabetic mice to return to normoglycemia and the stimulated plasma glucose clearance were also significantly accelerated in mice transplanted with TET and PGK cells when compared to control cells. VEGF was only needed during the first 2–3 weeks after transplantation; when removed, normoglycemia and graft vascularization were maintained. TC-treated mice grafted with TC-treated cells failed to restore normoglycemia. This approach allowed us to switch off VEGF secretion when the desired effects had been achieved. TC-regulated temporal expression of VEGF using a gene therapy approach presents a novel way to improve early revascularization and engraftment after islet cell transplantation.
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Keywords: Beta cell; Diabetes; Islet transplantation; Regulated gene expression; VEGF

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Transplantation and Surgical Department, Semmelweis University, Budapest, H-1089, Hungary, Cell Isolation and Transplantation Center, Department of Surgery, Geneva University Hospitals, Geneva; CH-1211, Switzerland 2: Isotis SA Isotis SA, Lausanne, CH-1005, Switzerland 3: Institut of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Lausanne, Lausanne, CH-1005, Switzerland 4: Cell Isolation and Transplantation Center, Department of Surgery, Geneva University Hospitals, Geneva; CH-1211, Switzerland 5: Department of Cell Physiology and Metabolism, University Medical Center, CH-1211, Geneva, Switzerland

Publication date: 01 July 2006

More about this publication?
  • Cell Transplantation publishes original, peer-reviewed research and review articles on the subject of cell transplantation and its application to human diseases. To ensure high-quality contributions from all areas of transplantation, separate section editors and editorial boards have been established. Articles deal with a wide range of topics including physiological, medical, preclinical, tissue engineering, and device-oriented aspects of transplantation of nervous system, endocrine, growth factor-secreting, bone marrow, epithelial, endothelial, and genetically engineered cells, among others. Basic clinical studies and immunological research papers are also featured. To provide complete coverage of this revolutionary field, Cell Transplantation will report on relevant technological advances, and ethical and regulatory considerations of cell transplants. Cell Transplantation is now an Open Access journal starting with volume 18 in 2009, and therefore there will be an inexpensive publication charge, which is dependent on the number of pages, in addition to the charge for color figures. This will allow work to be disseminated to a wider audience and also entitle the corresponding author to a free PDF, as well as prepublication of an unedited version of the manuscript.

    Cell Transplantation is now being published by SAGE. Please visit their website for the most recent issues.

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