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J Histochem Cytochem. 1999 Apr;47(4):499-506.

Characterization of integrin expression in islets isolated from hamster, canine, porcine, and human pancreas.

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Department of Surgery, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.


The reasons for the failure of clinical islet transplantation remain obscure. Islet isolation, however, exposes the islet to variety of cellular stresses, including disruption of the cell-matrix relationship, an event associated with apoptosis. The cell-matrix relationship is characterized by an interaction between cell surface integrin receptors and matrix molecules of the surrounding basement membrane (BM). The purpose of this study was to characterize integrin expression and the distribution of the peri-insular BM in human, porcine, canine, and hamster pancreas, and after routine islet isolation. Whereas islets in the porcine pancreas do not have a demonstrable BM, islets in the human, canine, and hamster pancreas have an almost continuous BM with very little direct exocrine to endocrine cell-cell contact. After islet isolation, the BM was destroyed, only to be reestablished during the period of culture. In the pancreas of all four species, integrin alpha3 was expressed only on islet cells, and integrin alpha5 was present on islet cells as well as on acinar, centroacinar, and duct cells. Integrin alphaV was detected only in human and canine pancreas. Integrin beta1 was demonstrated only in the human pancreas. In isolated islets, integrin alpha3, alpha5, and alphaV expression decreased during the culture period and the intensity of the staining was observed to be coincident with the distribution of the BM. In summary, this is the first report of integrin expression in hamster, canine, porcine, and human islets. After islet isolation, the altered islet cell-matrix relationship is reflected both in the decrease in integrin expression and in the destruction of the peri-insular BM. These profound changes will need to be considered as the process of islet isolation for transplantation is refined. (J Histochem Cytochem 47:499-506, 1999).

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