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Open Access Transplantation of Long-term Cultured Porcine Islets in the Rat: Prolonged Graft Survival and Recipient Growth on Reduced Immunosuppression

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To evaluate whether further improvement in porcine islet xenotransplantation is feasible, a number of questions were addressed. Earlier we showed significant improvement in the nude mouse of the porcine islets by selection through long-term culture. Now these islets were tested in the stringent pig-to-rat model. Islets were isolated from adult pigs, cultured for 1.5‐3 weeks and transplanted to rats. Possible rejection mechanisms were assessed by interference of the cellular response with cyclosporine A (CsA), blocking macrophages with gadolinium chloride (GdCl), and suppressing the humoral response with cyclophosphamide. Modifications in graft size and condition were analyzed. Untreated control recipients showed primary nonfunction (PNF). CsA treatment could fully overcome PNF and resulted in graft survival from 10 to over 134 days. Rejection was the main cause of function loss. Although rejection could not be prevented by intensifying the induction therapy, increased maintenance immunosuppression effectively blocked rejection, albeit at the expense of toxicity. Blocking the humoral response was ineffective; all grafts showed PNF. In contrast, depletion of macrophages fully prevented PNF. Combination of GdCl and CsA gave no additional effect, and grafts were rejected between 57 and 162 days. Generally, graft survivals were similar to those reported in the literature; however, long-term cultured islets required much less maintenance immunosuppression. Cessation of graft function was not always due to rejection; in some cases “islet exhaustion” was found, possibly caused by discrepancy between the graft size and the rapidly growing recipient. Neither the presence of damaged islet tissue in the graft nor the size of the graft exerted any influence on graft survival. On rejection, no real infiltration of the graft was seen; destruction gradually processed from the outside. The good functional capability of the cultured islets was illustrated by disappearance of the clinical symptoms and increase in body weight, which almost doubled in the long-term survivors.

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Keywords: Adult porcine islets; Rat; Survival; Xenotransplantation

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Surgery, Leiden University Medical Centre, Leiden, The Netherlands

Publication date: 2010-04-01

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  • 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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