Background aims: Mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) enhance islet function both in vitro and in vivo, at least in part by secreting ligands that activate islet G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs). We assessed whether pre-treatment with a defined "cocktail" of MSC-secreted GPCR ligands enhances islet functional survival in vitro and improves the outcomes of islet transplantation in an experimental model of diabetes.
Methods: Isolated islets were cultured for 48 h with ANXA1, SDF-1 or C3a, alone or in combination. Glucose-stimulated insulin secretion (GSIS) and cytokine-induced apoptosis were measured immediately after the 48 h culture period and at 24 h or 72 h following removal of the ligands from the culture media. Islets were syngeneically transplanted underneath the kidney capsule of streptozotocin-induced diabetic C57BL/6 mice and blood glucose levels monitored for 28 days.
Results: Pre-culturing islets with a cocktail of ANXA1/SDF-1/C3a potentiated GSIS and protected islet cells from cytokine-induced apoptosis in vitro. These effects were maintained for up to 72 h after the removal of the factors from the culture medium, suggesting a sustained protection of islet graft functional survival during the immediate post-transplantation period. Islets pre-treated with the cocktail of MSC secretory factors were more effective in reducing blood glucose in diabetic mice, consistent with their improved functional survival in vivo.
Discussion: Pre-culturing islets with a cocktail of MSC secretory products offers a well-defined, cell-free approach to improve clinical islet transplantation outcomes while avoiding many of the safety, regulatory and logistical hurdles of incorporating MSCs into transplantation protocols.
Keywords: diabetes; islet transplantation; mesenchymal stromal cells; secretome.
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