“Old School” Islet Purification Based on the Unit Gravity Sedimentation as a Rescue Technique for Intraportal Islet Transplantation—A Case Report

Justyna E. Gołębiewska, Karolina Gołąb, Tomasz Gorycki, Maciej Śledziński, Jacek Gulczyński, Iwona Żygowska, Bogumił Wolnik, Michał Hoffmann, Piotr Witkowski, Camillo Ricordi, Edyta Szurowska, Zbigniew Śledziński, Alicja Dębska-Ślizień

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Here, we present a case that required a supplemental “old school” islet purification for a safe intraportal infusion. Following pancreas procurement from a brain-dead 26-year-old male donor (body mass index: 21.9), 24.6 ml of islet tissue was isolated after continuous density gradient centrifugation. The islet yield was 504,000 islet equivalent (IEQ), distributed among the following three fractions: 64,161 IEQ in 0.6 ml of pellet, 182,058 IEQ in 10 ml, and 258,010 IEQ in 14 ml with 95%, 20%, and 10% purity, respectively. After a 23-h culture, we applied supplemental islet purification, based on the separation of tissue subfractions during unit gravity sedimentation, a technique developed over 60 years ago (“old school”). This method enabled the reduction of the total pellet volume to 11.6 ml, while retaining 374,940 IEQ with a viability of over 90%. The final islet product was prepared in three infusion bags, containing 130,926 IEQ in 2.6 ml of pellet, 108,079 IEQ in 4 ml of pellet, and 135,935 IEQ in 5 ml of pellet with 65%, 40%, and 30% purity, respectively, and with the addition of unfractionated heparin (70 units/kg body weight). Upon the islet infusion from all three bags, portal pressure increased from 7 to 16 mmHg. Antithrombotic prophylaxis with heparin was continued for 48 h after the infusion, with target activated partial thromboplastin time 50–60 s, followed by fractionated heparin subcutaneous injections for 2 weeks. β-Cell graft function assessed on day 75 post-transplantation was good, according to Igls criteria, with complete elimination of severe hypoglycemic episodes and 50% reduction in insulin requirements. Time spent within the target glucose range (70–180 mg/dl) improved from 42% to 98% and HbA1c declined from 8.7% to 6.7%. Supplemental “old school” islet purification allowed for the safe and successful utilization of a robust and high-quality islet preparation, which otherwise would have been discarded.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalCell transplantation
StatePublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • diabetes
  • islet transplantation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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