Microencapsulated islet allografts in diabetic NOD mice and nonhuman primates

S. A. Safley, N. S. Kenyon, D. M. Berman, G. F. Barber, H. Cui, S. Duncanson, T. de Toni, M. Willman, P. de Vos, A. A. Tomei, A. Sambanis, N. M. Kenyon, C. Ricordi, C. J. Weber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: Our goal was to assess the efficacy of encapsulated allogeneic islets transplanted in diabetic NOD mice and streptozotocin (STZ)-diabetic nonhuman primates (NHPs). MATERIALS AND METHODS: Murine or NHP islets were microencapsulated and transplanted in non-immunosuppressed mice or NHPs given clinically-acceptable immunosuppressive regimens, respectively. Two NHPs were treated with autologous mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) and peri-transplant oxygen therapy. Different transplant sites (intraperitoneal [i.p.], omental pouch, omental surface, and bursa omentalis) were tested in separate NHPs. Graft function was monitored by exogenous insulin requirements, fasting blood glucose levels, glucose tolerance tests, percent hemoglobin A1c (% HbA1c), and C-peptide levels. In vitro assessment of grafts included histology, immunohistochemistry, and viability staining; host immune responses were characterized by flow cytometry and cytokine/chemokine multiplex ELISAS. RESULTS: Microencapsulated islet allografts functioned long-term i.p. in diabetic NOD mice without immunosuppression, but for a relatively short time in immunosuppressed NHPs. In the NHPs, encapsulated allo-islets initially reduced hyperglycemia, decreased exogenous insulin requirements, elevated C-peptide levels, and lowered % HbA1c in plasma, but graft function diminished with time, regardless of transplant site. At necropsy, microcapsules were intact and non-fibrotic, but many islets exhibited volume loss, central necrosis and endogenous markers of hypoxia. Animals receiving supplemental oxygen and autologous MSCs showed improved graft function for a longer post-transplant period. In diabetic NHPs and mice, cell-free microcapsules did not elicit a fibrotic response. CONCLUSIONS: The evidence suggested that hypoxia was a major factor for damage to encapsulated islets in vivo. To achieve long-term function, new approaches must be developed to increase the oxygen supply to microencapsulated islets and/or identify donor insulin-secreting cells which can tolerate hypoxia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8551-8565
Number of pages15
JournalEuropean review for medical and pharmacological sciences
Issue number16
StatePublished - 2020


  • Diabetes
  • Hypoxia
  • Islet transplantation
  • Microencapsulation
  • Nonhuman primates

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)


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