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PloS one

Co-transplantation of endothelial progenitor cells and pancreatic islets to induce long-lasting normoglycemia in streptozotocin-treated diabetic rats.


PMID 24733186

Abstract

Graft vascularization is a crucial step to obtain stable normoglycemia in pancreatic islet transplantation. Endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) contribute to neoangiogenesis and to the revascularization process during ischaemic events and play a key role in the response to pancreatic islet injury. In this work we co-transplanted EPCs and islets in the portal vein of chemically-induced diabetic rats to restore islet vascularization and to improve graft survival. Syngenic islets were transplanted, either alone or with EPCs derived from green fluorescent protein (GFP) transgenic rats, into the portal vein of streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. Blood glucose levels were monitored and intraperitoneal glucose tolerance tests were performed. Real time-PCR was carried out to evaluate the gene expression of angiogenic factors. Diabetic-induced rats showed long-lasting (6 months) normoglycemia upon co-transplantation of syngenic islets and EPCs. After 3-5 days from transplantation, hyperglycaemic levels dropped to normal values and lasted unmodified as long as they were checked. Further, glucose tolerance tests revealed the animals' ability to produce insulin on-demand as indexed by a prompt response in blood glucose clearance. Graft neovascularization was evaluated by immunohistochemistry: for the first time the measure of endothelial thickness revealed a donor-EPC-related neovascularization supporting viable islets up to six months after transplant. Our results highlight the importance of a newly formed viable vascular network together with pancreatic islets to provide de novo adequate supply in order to obtain enduring normoglycemia and prevent diabetes-related long-term health hazards.