Chronic systemic immunosuppression in cell replacement therapy restricts its clinical application. This study sought to explore the potential of cell-based immune modulation as an alternative to immunosuppressive drug therapy in the context of pancreatic islet transplantation. Human amniotic epithelial cells (AEC) possess innate anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive properties that were utilized to create localized immune privilege in an in vitro islet cell culture system. Cellular constructs composed of human islets and AEC (islet/AEC) were bioengineered under defined rotational cell culture conditions. Insulin secretory capacity was validated by glucose challenge and immunomodulatory potential characterized using a peripheral blood lymphocyte (PBL) proliferation assay. Results were compared to control constructs composed of islets or AEC cultured alone. Studies employing AEC-conditioned medium examined the role of soluble factors, and fluorescence immunocytochemistry was used to identify putative mediators of the immunosuppressive response in isolated AEC monocultures. Sustained, physiologically appropriate insulin secretion was observed in both islets and islet/AEC constructs. Activation of resting PBL proliferation occurred on exposure to human islets alone but this response was significantly (p < 0.05) attenuated by the presence of AEC and AEC-conditioned medium. Mitogen (phytohaemagglutinin, 5 g/ml)-induced PBL proliferation was sustained on contact with isolated islets but abrogated by AEC, conditioned medium, and the islet/AEC constructs. Immunocytochemical analysis of AEC monocultures identified a subpopulation of cells that expressed the proapoptosis protein Fas ligand. This study demonstrates that human islet/AEC constructs exhibit localized immunosuppressive properties with no impairment of -cell function. The data suggest that transplanted islets may benefit from the immune privilege status conferred on them as a consequence of their close proximity to human AEC. Such an approach may reduce the need for chronic systemic immunosuppression, thus making islet transplantation a more attractive treatment option for the management of insulin-dependent diabetes.
The Islet Research Laboratory, Worcester Clinical Research Unit, Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, Worcester, UK
Publication date: April 1, 2011
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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.