While a few studies have demonstrated the benefit of PEGylation in islet transplantation, most have employed renal subcapsular models and none have performed direct comparisons of islet mass in intraportal islet transplantation using islet magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). In this study, our aim was to demonstrate the benefit of PEGylation in the early post-transplant period of intraportal islet transplantation with a novel algorithm for islet MRI. Islets were PEGylated after ferucarbotran labeling in a rat syngeneic intraportal islet transplantation model followed by comparisons of post-transplant glycemic levels in recipient rats infused with PEGylated (n = 12) and non-PEGylated (n = 13) islets. The total area of hypointense spots and the number of hypointense spots larger than 1.758 mm(2) of PEGylated and non-PEGylated islets were quantitatively compared. The total area of hypointense spots (P < 0.05) and the number of hypointense spots larger than 1.758 mm(2) (P < 0.05) were higher in the PEGylated islet group 7 and 14 days post translation (DPT). These results translated into better post-transplant outcomes in the PEGylated islet group 28 DPT. In validation experiments, MRI parameters obtained 1, 7, and 14 DPT predicted normoglycemia 4 wk post-transplantation. We directly demonstrated the benefit of islet PEGylation in protection against nonspecific islet destruction in the early post-transplant period of intraportal islet transplantation using a novel algorithm for islet MRI. This novel algorithm could serve as a useful tool to demonstrate such benefit in future clinical trials of islet transplantation using PEGylated islets.
Keywords: PEGylation; intraportal; islet transplantation; magnetic resonance imaging; superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles.