Generation of insulin-secreting organoids: a step toward engineering and transplanting the bioartificial pancreas

Transpl Int. 2020 Dec;33(12):1577-1588. doi: 10.1111/tri.13721. Epub 2020 Sep 27.


Diabetes is a major health issue of increasing prevalence. ß-cell replacement, by pancreas or islet transplantation, is the only long-term curative option for patients with insulin-dependent diabetes. Despite good functional results, pancreas transplantation remains a major surgery with potentially severe complications. Islet transplantation is a minimally invasive alternative that can widen the indications in view of its lower morbidity. However, the islet isolation procedure disrupts their vasculature and connection to the surrounding extracellular matrix, exposing them to ischemia and anoikis. Implanted islets are also the target of innate and adaptive immune attacks, thus preventing robust engraftment and prolonged full function. Generation of organoids, defined as functional 3D structures assembled with cell types from different sources, is a strategy increasingly used in regenerative medicine for tissue replacement or repair, in a variety of inflammatory or degenerative disorders. Applied to ß-cell replacement, it offers the possibility to control the size and composition of islet-like structures (pseudo-islets), and to include cells with anti-inflammatory or immunomodulatory properties. In this review, we will present approaches to generate islet cell organoids and discuss how these strategies can be applied to the generation of a bioartificial pancreas for the treatment of type 1 diabetes.

Keywords: bioengineering; cell transplantation; islet transplantation; organoids; type 1 diabetes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1* / surgery
  • Humans
  • Insulin
  • Islets of Langerhans Transplantation*
  • Islets of Langerhans*
  • Organoids


  • Insulin