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Diabetologia. 2013 Jul;56(7):1596-604. doi: 10.1007/s00125-013-2895-z. Epub 2013 Mar 27.

Effects of immunosuppression on alpha and beta cell renewal in transplanted mouse islets.

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Department of General, Thoracic and Vascular Surgery, University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus, Dresden University of Technology, Fetscherstrasse 74, 01307, Dresden, Germany.



Immunosuppressive drugs used in human islet transplantation interfere with the balance between beta cell renewal and death, and thus may contribute to progressive graft dysfunction. We analysed the influence of immunosuppressants on the proliferation of transplanted alpha and beta cells after syngeneic islet transplantation in streptozotocin-induced diabetic mice.


C57BL/6 diabetic mice were transplanted with syngeneic islets in the liver and simultaneously abdominally implanted with a mini-osmotic pump delivering BrdU alone or together with an immunosuppressant (tacrolimus, sirolimus, everolimus or mycophenolate mofetil [MMF]). Glycaemic control was assessed for 4 weeks. The area and proliferation of transplanted alpha and beta cells were subsequently quantified.


After 4 weeks, glycaemia was significantly higher in treated mice than in controls. Insulinaemia was significantly lower in mice treated with everolimus, tacrolimus and sirolimus. MMF was the only immunosuppressant that did not significantly reduce beta cell area or proliferation, albeit its levels were in a lower range than those used in clinical settings.


After transplantation in diabetic mice, syngeneic beta cells have a strong capacity for self-renewal. In contrast to other immunosuppressants, MMF neither impaired beta cell proliferation nor adversely affected the fractional beta cell area. Although human beta cells are less prone to proliferate compared with rodent beta cells, the use of MMF may improve the long-term outcome of islet transplantation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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