Hypothesis: A local multiorgan donor pancreas procurement program can provide a source for optimized isolation of purified viable islets for transplantation into patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus receiving best medical therapy.
Design: Prospective before-after cohort study.
Setting: Tertiary referral center.
Patients: Glycemic control was assessed in 10 patients with diabetes-induced renal dysfunction who were enrolled in a best medical therapy program and then crossed over to islet transplantation.
Interventions: Thirty human pancreata were retrieved from local multiorgan donors and consecutively processed with intraductal collagenase perfusion, continuous digestion, and density gradient purification (group 1, n = 9) or similarly processed but impure tissue fractions cultured in vitro and then repurified to retrieve additional islets (group 2, n = 21). Islets were implanted by percutaneous portal embolization, providing more than 10 000 islet equivalents (IE) per kilogram of body weight (infusions from 1-3 donors per patient) under cover of antithymocyte globulin, sirolimus, or mycophenolate mofetil and tacrolimus.
Main outcome measures: Islet yields, purity, and cell viability (caspase 3, terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated biotin-deoxyuridine 5-triphosphate nick-end labeling stain, and insulin secretion in vitro) were compared. In patients, monitored metabolic parameters were C-peptide secretion, insulin requirements, glycemic excursion, and hemoglobin A(1c) (HbA(1c)).
Results: For group 1 vs group 2, no differences were observed in pancreas age (43 vs 44 years), cold storage (5 vs 4 hours), or weight (73 vs 82 g). Group 2 yielded 453 690 IE vs 214 109 IE in group 1 (P = .002). Grafts contained 50% or more endocrine cells in both groups. No difference occurred in cell viability or insulin secretion. Islets from 90% of group 2 pancreata met release criteria for transplantation. C-peptide secretion was detected in all recipients and persisted with a median follow-up to 12 months (range, 6-21 months) after full islet transplantation. Daily insulin dependence was reversed in all patients for at least 3 months. Five patients resumed small insulin doses. Compared with the best care program, all patients had improved metabolic stability. The mean +/- SE HbA(1c) level at entry into the study was 7.8% +/- 0.5%, and this decreased to 6.9% +/- 0.2% after best care (P = .38) and further to 6.2% +/- 0.2% at 6 months after transplantation (P = .002 vs entry; P = .15 vs best care; analysis of variance).
Conclusions: Local pancreas donor retrieval with islet isolation and culture conditioning enabled an offer of islets for transplantation for 90% of consecutively processed pancreata. Isolated islets secreted insulin during prolonged follow-up after implantation into patients, yielding metabolic control comparable with that achieved by best medical therapy.