Fibroblasts accelerate islet revascularization and improve long-term graft survival in a mouse model of subcutaneous islet transplantation
by Marcos Perez-Basterrechea, Manuel Martinez Esteban, Maria Alvarez-Viejo, Tania Fontanil, Santiago Cal, Marta Sanchez Pitiot, Jesus Otero, Alvaro Jesus ObayaPancreatic islet transplantation has been considered for many years a promising therapy for beta-cell replacement in patients with type-1 diabetes despite that long-term clinical results are not as satisfactory. This fact points to the necessity of designing strategies to improve and accelerate islets engraftment, paying special attention to events assuring their revascularization. Fibroblasts constitute a cell population that collaborates on tissue homeostasis, keeping the equilibrium between production and degradation of structural components as well as maintaining the required amount of survival factors. Our group has developed a model for subcutaneous islet transplantation using a plasma-based scaffold containing fibroblasts as accessory cells that allowed achieving glycemic control in diabetic mice. Transplanted tissue engraftment is critical during the first days after transplantation, thus we have gone in depth into the graft-supporting role of fibroblasts during the first ten days after islet transplantation. All mice transplanted with islets embedded in the plasma-based scaffold reversed hyperglycemia, although long-term glycemic control was maintained only in the group transplanted with the fibroblasts-containing scaffold. By gene expression analysis and histology examination during the first days we could conclude that these differences might be explained by overexpression of genes involved in vessel development as well as in β-cell regeneration that were detected when fibroblasts were present in the graft. Furthermore, fibroblasts presence correlated with a faster graft re-vascularization, a higher insulin-positive area and a lower cell death. Therefore, this work underlines the importance of fibroblasts as accessory cells in islet transplantation, and suggests its possible use in other graft-supporting strategies.
Publisher URL: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article
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