Porcine islets are considered to be a promising resource for xenotransplantation. However, it is difficult to isolate porcine islets because of the marked fragility and rapid dissociation. Endogenous trypsin is one of the main factors to damage islets during the isolation procedure. Recent studies have suggested that trypsin inhibitors during the preservation of pancreas or the collagenase digestion can improve the result of islet isolation. In this study, we examined whether α1-antitrypsin (Aralast™), which inhibits several endogenous proteases and has immunomodulatory properties, can protect islets from the proteases and improve the results of porcine islet isolation. Twelve porcine pancreata were divided into three groups: without Aralast group (standard, n = 5), preserved with Aralast using the ductal injection (DI) method (DI, n = 3), and with Aralast using the DI method and in the collagenase solution (DI+C, n = 4). Efficacy of islet isolation was assessed by islet yields, purity, and viability. The trypsin activity of the preservation and the digestion solution during the isolation procedure was measured. During islet isolation, the trypsin activity in DI+C group was significantly inhibited compared to the standard group, whereas DI group showed less effect than DI+C group. The average of postpurification islet equivalents (IEQ) per pancreas weight in the DI+C group was significantly higher than the standard group (standard: 3516 ± 497 IEQ/g, DI: 4607 ± 1090 IEQ/g, DI+C: 7097 ± 995 IEQ/g; p = 0.017 between standard and DI+C). In the DI+C group, stimulation index was higher than in other groups, although there was no significant difference. The presence of Aralast in both DI solution and collagenase solution markedly inhibited trypsin activity during pancreas digestion procedure and improved the porcine islet isolation. Inhibition of trypsin activity by Aralast could improve porcine islet isolation.
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