Fluorescence lifetime metabolic mapping of hypoxia-induced damage in pancreatic pseudo-islets

J Biophotonics. 2020 Dec;13(12):e202000375. doi: 10.1002/jbio.202000375. Epub 2020 Oct 15.


Pancreatic islet isolation from donor pancreases is an essential step for the transplantation of insulin-secreting β-cells as a therapy to treat type 1 diabetes mellitus. This process however damages islet basement membranes, which can lead to islet dysfunction or death. Posttransplantation, islets are further stressed by a hypoxic environment and immune reactions that cause poor engraftment and graft failure. The current standards to assess islet quality before transplantation are destructive procedures, performed on a small islet population that does not reflect the heterogeneity of large isolated islet batches. In this study, we incorporated fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy (FLIM) into a pancreas-on-chip system to establish a protocol to noninvasively assess the viability and functionality of pancreatic β-cells in a three-dimensional in vitro model (= pseudo-islets). We demonstrate how (pre-) hypoxic β-cell-composed pseudo-islets can be discriminated from healthy functional pseudo-islets according to their FLIM-based metabolic profiles. The use of FLIM during the pretransplantation pancreatic islet selection process has the potential to improve the outcome of β-cell islet transplantation.

Keywords: FLIM; hypoxia; insulin; pancreatic islet; type 1 diabetes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1*
  • Fluorescence
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia
  • Islets of Langerhans Transplantation*
  • Islets of Langerhans*