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Cell Transplant. 2010;19(6):731-41. doi: 10.3727/096368910X508834. Epub 2010 Jun 3.

Assessment of islet quality following international shipping of more than 10,000 km.

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  • 1Baylor Institute for Immunology Research, Baylor Research Institute, Dallas, TX, USA.


Islet transplantation is an attractive therapy for type 1 diabetes, although some issues remain. One of them is the severe donor shortage in some countries. In this study, we investigated the possibility of international islet shipping beyond 10,000 km to supply islets to countries with donor shortages. Human islets were isolated from six cadaver donors and cultured until shipment. Islets were packed in either gas-permeable bags or in non-gas-permeable bags and shipped from Baylor Research Institute (Dallas, TX, USA) to Fukuoka University (Fukuoka, Japan). Pre- and postshipment islet number, purity, viability, and stimulation index (by glucose stimulation test) were assessed. Shipped 1,500 IE islets were transplanted into streptozotocin-induced diabetic nude mice for in vivo assay. The distance of our shipment was 11,148.4 km, and the mean duration of the shipments was 48.2 ± 8.2 h. The islet number recovery rate (postshipment/preshipment) was significantly higher in gas-permeable bags (56.4 ± 10.1% vs. 20.5 ± 20.6%, p < 0.01). Islet purity was significantly reduced during shipment in non-gas-permeable bags (from 47.7 ± 18.6% to 40.2 ± 28.2 in gas-permeable bags vs. from 50.4 ± 6.4% to 25.9 ± 15.6% in non-gas-permeable bags, p < 0.05). Islet viability and stimulation index did not change significantly between pre- and postshipping, in either gas-permeable bags or in non-gas-permeable bags. One of three diabetic nude mice (33.3%) converted to normoglycemia. It is feasible to ship human islet cells internationally in gas-permeable bags. This strategy would promote basic and preclinical research for countries with donor shortages, even though the research centers are remote (over 10,000 km from the islet isolation center).

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