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PLoS One. 2011;6(12):e29706. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0029706. Epub 2011 Dec 28.

Promoting long-term survival of insulin-producing cell grafts that differentiate from adipose tissue-derived stem cells to cure type 1 diabetes.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Center for Biomedical Research, University of Texas Health Science Center, Tyler, Texas, USA.



Insulin-producing cell clusters (IPCCs) have recently been generated in vitro from adipose tissue-derived stem cells (ASCs) to circumvent islet shortage. However, it is unknown how long they can survive upon transplantation, whether they are eventually rejected by recipients, and how their long-term survival can be induced to permanently cure type 1 diabetes. IPCC graft survival is critical for their clinical application and this issue must be systematically addressed prior to their in-depth clinical trials.


Here we found that IPCC grafts that differentiated from murine ASCs in vitro, unlike their freshly isolated islet counterparts, did not survive long-term in syngeneic mice, suggesting that ASC-derived IPCCs have intrinsic survival disadvantage over freshly isolated islets. Indeed, β cells retrieved from IPCC syngrafts underwent faster apoptosis than their islet counterparts. However, blocking both Fas and TNF receptor death pathways inhibited their apoptosis and restored their long-term survival in syngeneic recipients. Furthermore, blocking CD40-CD154 costimulation and Fas/TNF signaling induced long-term IPCC allograft survival in overwhelming majority of recipients. Importantly, Fas-deficient IPCC allografts exhibited certain immune privilege and enjoyed long-term survival in diabetic NOD mice in the presence of CD28/CD40 joint blockade while their islet counterparts failed to do so.


Long-term survival of ASC-derived IPCC syngeneic grafts requires blocking Fas and TNF death pathways, whereas blocking both death pathways and CD28/CD40 costimulation is needed for long-term IPCC allograft survival in diabetic NOD mice. Our studies have important clinical implications for treating type 1 diabetes via ASC-derived IPCC transplantation.

© 2011 Zhang et al.

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