Aims/hypothesis: The limited availability of deceased donor pancreases suitable for pancreas and islet transplantation calls for a broader utilisation of donor tissue for transplantation purposes. Young donors, representing, fortunately, a minor but significant pool of individuals, have been largely under-employed, mainly because of anatomical and functional incompatibilities with potential recipients. For islet transplantation, the isolation of pancreatic islets from young donors rarely occurs, because of technical problems. As a result of the peculiar characteristics of young donor pancreases, the standard isolation procedure does not allow efficient separation of the islets from the surrounding exocrine tissue, and favours the generation of mantled islets. Nonetheless, young donor islets offer high qualitative and clinically appealing characteristics.
Subjects and methods: We standardised a modified methodology to obtain purified and mantle-free human islets from young donors. This method principally involves efficient delivery of isolation enzyme with reduced mechanical disruption of the pancreas combined with additional filtration steps.
Results: We were able to obtain purified and mantle-free human islets from donors as young as 6 months of age with good morphological and functional properties. The good qualitative characteristics of the islets, evidenced in vitro, were proven in vivo, as they were qualitatively superior to islets of older donors in transplantation studies.
Conclusions/interpretation: This study justifies the utilisation of islets derived from young donors for islet transplantation.