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Ups J Med Sci. 2011 Mar;116(1):8-17. doi: 10.3109/03009734.2010.524320. Epub 2010 Nov 4.

Preparatory studies of composite mesenchymal stem cell islets for application in intraportal islet transplantation.

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  • 1Uppsala University, Department of Oncology, Radiology and Clinical Immunology, Division of Clinical Immunology, The Rudbeck Laboratory, Uppsala, Sweden.



Low engraftment and adverse immune reactions hamper the success rate of clinical islet transplantation. In this study, we investigated the capacity of human mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) to adhere to human islets of Langerhans and their effects in immune modulation and during blood interactions in vitro.


Composite MSC-islets were formed by suspension co-culture, and the phenotype was evaluated by confocal microscopy. Islet function was assessed by dynamic insulin release in response to glucose in vitro. Mixed lymphocyte-islet reactions (MLIR) and the tubing blood loop model were utilized as in vitro tools to analyse the effect of MSCs on the innate and adaptive immune reactions triggered by the islets.


MSCs rapidly adhered to islets and spread out to cover the islet surface. Insulin expression and secretion were sustained with the MSC coating. MSC-coated islets showed unaffected reactions with blood in vitro in comparison to control islets. Furthermore, MSCs suppressed lymphocyte proliferation induced by islet cells in MLIR.


We conclude that it is possible to create composite MSC-islets to enable delivery of the MSCs by utilizing the adhesive capacity of the MSCs. This could have beneficial immunosuppressive effects in optimizing pancreatic islet transplantation.

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