Biologic and immunomodulatory properties of mesenchymal stromal cells derived from human pancreatic islets

Cytotherapy. 2012 Sep;14(8):925-35. doi: 10.3109/14653249.2012.684376. Epub 2012 May 9.


Background aims: Mesenchymal stromal cells (MSC) have now been shown to reside in numerous tissues throughout the body, including the pancreas. Ex vivo culture-expanded MSC derived from many tissues display important interactions with different types of immune cells in vitro and potentially play a significant role in tissue homeostasis in vivo. In this study, we investigated the biologic and immunomodulatory properties of human pancreatic islet-derived MSC.

Methods: We culture-expanded MSC from cadaveric human pancreatic islets and characterized them using flow cytometry, differentiation assays and nuclear magnetic resonance-based metabolomics. We also investigated the immunologic properties of pancreatic islet-derived MSC compared with bone marrow (BM) MSC.

Results: Pancreatic islet and BM-derived MSC expressed the same cell-surface markers by flow cytometry, and both could differentiate into bone, fat and cartilage. Metabolomics analysis of MSC from BM and pancreatic islets also showed a similar set of metabolic markers but quantitative polymerase chain reactions showed that pancreatic islet MSC expressed more interleukin(IL)-1b, IL-6, STAT3 and FGF9 compared with BM MSC, and less IL-10. However, similar to BM MSC, pancreatic islet MSC were able to suppress proliferation of allogeneic T lymphocytes stimulated with anti-CD3 and anti-CD28 antibodies.

Conclusions: Our in vitro analysis shows pancreatic islet-derived MSC have phenotypic, biologic and immunomodulatory characteristics similar, but not identical, to BM-derived MSC. We propose that pancreatic islet-derived MSC could potentially play an important role in improving the outcome of pancreatic islet transplantation by promoting engraftment and creating a favorable immune environment for long-term survival of islet allografts.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, Surface / analysis
  • Bone Marrow Cells* / cytology
  • Bone Marrow Cells* / immunology
  • Bone Marrow Cells* / metabolism
  • Cadaver
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Gene Expression
  • Humans
  • Islets of Langerhans* / cytology
  • Islets of Langerhans* / immunology
  • Islets of Langerhans* / metabolism
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells* / cytology
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells* / immunology
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells* / metabolism


  • Antigens, Surface