Influence of microenvironment on engraftment of transplanted β-cells

  • Per-Ola Carlsson Department of Medical Cell Biology, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden, and Department of Medical Sciences, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden
Keywords: Engraftment, implantation site, islet transplantation


Pancreatic islet transplantation into the liver provides a possibility to treat selected patients with brittle type 1 diabetes mellitus. However, massive early β-cell death increases the number of islets needed to restore glucose homeostasis. Moreover, late dysfunction and death contribute to the poor long-term results of islet transplantation on insulin independence. Studies in recent years have identified early and late challenges for transplanted pancreatic islets, including an instant blood-mediated inflammatory reaction when exposing human islets to the blood microenvironment in the portal vein and the low oxygenated milieu of islets transplanted into the liver. Poor revascularization of remaining intact islets combined with severe changes in the gene expression of islets transplanted into the liver contributes to late dysfunction. Strategies to overcome these hurdles have been developed, and some of these interventions are now even tested in clinical trials providing a hope to improve results in clinical islet transplantation. In parallel, experimental and clinical studies have, based on the identified problems with the liver site, evaluated the possibility of change of implantation organ in order to improve the results. Site-specific differences clearly exist in the engraftment of transplanted islets, and a more thorough characterization of alternative locations is needed. New strategies with modifications of islet microenvironment with cells and growth factors adhered to the islet surface or in a surrounding matrix could be designed to intervene with site-specific hurdles and provide possibilities to improve future results of islet transplantation.


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How to Cite
Carlsson P.-O. (2011). Influence of microenvironment on engraftment of transplanted β-cells. Upsala Journal of Medical Sciences, 116(1), 1–7.
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