Systematic analysis of donor and isolation factor's impact on human islet yield and size distribution

Cell Transplant. 2013;22(12):2323-33. doi: 10.3727/096368912X662417. Epub 2013 Jan 28.


Islet transplantation is a promising therapy for T1DM. Key factors influencing islet yield have been identified with conflicting results. In this study, we analyzed 276 isolations to identify variables for islet yield and, additionally, islet size and size distribution. Pearson correlation analyses demonstrated that BMI had a positive correlation with pancreas size, actual islet count (AIC), and islet equivalent (IEQ)/g (all p ≤ 0.009), while CIT had a negative correlation with AIC and IEQ/g (all p ≤ 0.003). In mixed linear regression, BMI also had a positive correlation with islet size but only for shorter digestion times (≤15 min); there was no association between BMI and islet size for longer digestion times (>15 min). CIT was not associated with islet size. Donor age, sex, and preservation solutions were shown to have no correlation with islet yields or size distribution. Pancreas size had a positive correlation with AIC and a negative association with IEQ/g; it also had positive association with islet size but only for females, not males. Overdigestion was positively associated with islet counts; however, there was also a greater proportion of smaller islets when digestion rate was >74% (p = 0.005). Of the three collagenases analyzed, Sigma V had the lowest digestion rate (mean = 65%), approximately 5% or 10% lower than Roche Liberase HI (p = 0.04) and Serva NB1 (p = 0.0003), respectively; however, the Sigma V group showed better islet size preservation. Yet, the enzymes resulted in similar IEQ/g digested tissue. Of the isolated islets, 70.2% were smaller than 150 µm and contributed only 20.4% to the total IEQ, while 7.4% of the islets were larger than 250 µm but contributed 42.4% to the total IEQ. In summary, BMI, pancreas size, and CIT are useful variables for predicting islet yield, but selection of enzyme and balancing digestion time and rate are also important.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cell Separation
  • Collagenases / chemistry
  • Collagenases / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Islets of Langerhans / cytology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Organ Size
  • Sex Factors
  • Time Factors
  • Tissue Donors*


  • Collagenases