Islet cell transplantation: in vivo and in vitro functional assessment of nonhuman primate pancreatic islets

Cell Transplant. May-Jun 2000;9(3):409-14.


Transplantation of pancreatic islets of Langerhans as a therapeutic approach for treatment of type I diabetes offers an alternative to subcutaneous insulin injections. Normalization of blood glucose levels by transplanted islets may prevent the development of diabetes-related complications. Problems related to rejection, recurrence of autoimmunity, and local inflammation upon transplantation of islets into the liver need to be solved before the implementation of islet cell transplantation can be viewed as a justifiable procedure in a large cohort of patients. Islet cell isolation has been quite successful in small animals, but the translation of this approach to nonhuman primates has been less rewarding. One of the main problems encountered in nonhuman primate models is the difficulty of isolating an adequate number of functional islets for transplantation. The aim of the present study was to develop a method for isolating a sufficient number of viable islets from nonhuman primates to allow for reversal of diabetes. By implementing minor modifications in the automated method for human islet isolation we were able to obtain viable, functional islets that responded normally to glucose stimulation in vitro. These islets were also able to reverse diabetes in immunocompromised nude mice, rendered diabetic by streptozotocin. This method of islet cell isolation has enabled us to proceed with protocols of allogeneic islet cell transplantation in preclinical, nonhuman primate models.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Cell Separation / methods*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / surgery*
  • Glucose / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Insulin / blood
  • Insulin / immunology
  • Islets of Langerhans / anatomy & histology
  • Islets of Langerhans / metabolism*
  • Islets of Langerhans Transplantation / methods*
  • Macaca fascicularis
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Pancreas / surgery


  • Blood Glucose
  • Insulin
  • Glucose