In vitro culture of islets of Langerhans decreases their immunogenecity, presumably by eliminating passenger leukocytes and other Ia+ presenting cells within the islets. Islets cultivated in petri dishes either at 37°C or at 25°C gradually disintegrate during culture in a time-dependent manner which is related to the free-floating condition of the islets. Also, a fraction of the islets disperse as single cells and beta-cell aggregates or adhere to the bottom of the culture dishes. Thus, the retrieval rate of transplantable islets is dampened due to their disintegration and spontaneous dispersion in conventional petri dish cultures. Entrapment of freshly harvested islets of Langerhans in a three-dimensional collagen matrix was studied as an alternative method for islet cultivation. The contraction of collagen fibrils during in vitro culture counteracts the dispersion of islets and helps in maintaining their integrity while in culture. It was observed that the entrapped islets maintain satisfactory morphology, viability, and capability of glucose-dependent insulin secretion for over 2 wk. The oxygen consumption rate and glucose metabolism of these islets was not deranged when entrapped in collagen. Also, the retrieval of islets is easier and more efficient than that observed in conventional culture systems. Our results indicate that culture of islets in three-dimensional collagen gels can potentially develop into an ideal system applicable to clinical transplantation of cultured islets or beta-cell aggregates.
- Beta cells
- Islet of Langerhans