Neural crest stem cells improve engraftment of pancreatic islet transplants

Reuters Health Information: Neural crest stem cells improve engraftment of pancreatic islet transplants

Neural crest stem cells improve engraftment of pancreatic islet transplants

Last Updated: 2015-02-23

By Will Boggs MD

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Co-transplantation of neural crest stem cells (NCSCs) with human pancreatic islets improves beta-cell growth and engraftment, researchers from Sweden report.

"Auxiliary stem cells such as neural progenitors provide excellent trophic stimuli for human beta-cells and their engraftment after transplantation," Dr. Per-Ola Carlsson from Uppsala University told Reuters Health by email. "Bioengineering pancreatic islets for transplantation with these kinds of cells is easily performed, since they can bind to and cover islet surfaces."

In earlier studies, Dr. Carlsson's team showed NCSCs to be potent inducers of beta-cell proliferation in mice, but direct cell-cell interaction was required for these effects.

In the current study, they investigated the potential of NCSCs to stimulate human beta-cell proliferation and to enhance their engraftment when transplanted into the renal subcapsular space of nude mice.

Compared with control islets from the same cadaver donor, islets exposed to NCSCs had 21% greater mass and beta-cells exposed to NCSCs had 22% greater mass at one month post-transplantation, the researchers report in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, online February 10.

Neural density after one month was increased three to four times in human islets co-transplanted with NCSCs, they say. NCSCs also boosted the vascular density, blood perfusion, and oxygen tension in human islets.

"An unexpected finding was also that the human beta-cell proliferation was higher in vivo than in vitro, which indicates that the more complex in vivo milieu provides important triggers for the division of human beta-cells," Dr. Carlsson said.

"Before introduced in clinical practice, we need to establish cultures of these cells from, e.g., human bone marrow," he added. "We also need to establish safety data of cells for clinical use."


J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2015.

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