Bioluminescent monitoring of islet graft survival after transplantation

Mol Ther. 2004 Mar;9(3):428-35. doi: 10.1016/j.ymthe.2004.01.008.


Islet transplantation offers a potential therapy to restore glucose homeostasis in type 1 diabetes patients. A method to image transplanted islets noninvasively and repeatedly would greatly assist studies of islet transplantation. Using recombinant adenovirus, we show that isolated rodent and human islets can be genetically engineered to express luciferase and then imaged after implantation into NOD-scid mice using a cooled charge-coupled device. The magnitude of the signal was dependent on the islet dose. Adenovirus-directed luciferase expression, however, rapidly attenuated. We next tested lentivirus vectors that should direct the long-term expression of reporter genes in transduced islets. Transplanted lentivirus-transduced islets restored euglycemia long term in streptozotocin-treated NOD-scid mice. The signal from implanted lentivirus-transduced islets was related directly to the implanted islet mass, and the signal did not attenuate over the observation period. Viral transduction, luciferase expression, and repeated imaging had no apparent long-term deleterious effects on islet function after implantation. These data demonstrate that the introduction of reporter genes into an isolated tissue allows the long-term monitoring of its survival following implantation. Such imaging technologies may allow earlier detection of graft rejection and the adjustment of therapies to prolong graft survival posttransplantation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adenoviridae / genetics
  • Animals
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / therapy
  • Gene Transfer Techniques*
  • Genes, Reporter
  • Genetic Therapy / methods*
  • Genetic Vectors
  • Graft Survival*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Islets of Langerhans / metabolism
  • Islets of Langerhans Transplantation / methods*
  • Lentivirus / genetics
  • Luciferases / genetics
  • Luciferases / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred NOD
  • Mice, SCID
  • Rats
  • Streptozocin / pharmacology
  • Time Factors


  • Streptozocin
  • Luciferases