Extracellular Matrix in Pancreatic Islets: Relevance to Scaffold Design and Transplantation
Intrahepatic islet transplantation provides a potentially more benign alternative to pancreatic transplantation. However, islet transplants are associated with limited engraftment potential. This inefficiency is likely at least partially attributable to the isolation process, which removes islets from their native environment. Isolation not only disrupts the internal vascularization and innervation of islets, but also fundamentally changes interactions between islet cells and macromolecules of the extracellular matrix (ECM). Signaling interactions between islet cells and ECM are known to regulate multiple aspects of islet physiology, including survival, proliferation, and insulin secretion. Although it is highly likely that disruptions to these interactions during isolation significantly affect transplant outcomes, the true implications of these conditions are not well understood. The following article reviews current understandings and uncertainties in islet‐ECM interactions and explains their potential impact on posttransplant engraftment. Topics covered include matrix and receptor compositions in native islets, effects of isolation and culture on islet‐ECM interactions, and potential for postisolation restoration of islet‐ECM interactions. Greater understanding in these areas may help to reduce isolation and transplantation stresses and improve islet engraftment.
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