Automated method for isolation of human pancreatic islets

Diabetes. 1988 Apr;37(4):413-20. doi: 10.2337/diab.37.4.413.


We describe an automated method for the isolation of human pancreatic islets. The procedure meets the following requirements: 1) minimal traumatic action on the islets, 2) continuous digestion in which the islets that are progressively liberated can be saved from further enzymatic action, 3) minimal human intervention in the digestion process, and 4) high yield and purity of the isolated islets. After purification on Ficoll gradients, an average of 164,600 islets/pancreas was obtained (2279 islets/g), with an average purity of 78.5% islets. The average volume and average insulin content of the final islet preparation were 348 mm3 and 93.4 U, respectively. The islets were morphologically intact with a normal degree of beta-granulation and responded to glucose stimulation with a fivefold increase of insulin secretion over basal levels. The procedure is now being used for the initiation of the second phase of clinical trials on human islet transplants.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cell Separation / instrumentation
  • Cell Separation / methods*
  • Humans
  • Insulin / isolation & purification
  • Islets of Langerhans / analysis
  • Islets of Langerhans / cytology*
  • Perfusion


  • Insulin