DL-ethionine Treatment of Adult Pancreatic Donors Amelioration of Diabetes in Multiple Recipients with Tissue From a Single Donor

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Transplantation of adult rat pancreatic islet tissue as a free graft requires the separation of islet from exocrine tissue to avoid host injury or graft destruction by digestive enzymes. The poor yield from islet isolation techniques currently necessitates the use of multiple donors to ameliorate diabetes in a single recipient. DL-ethionine (DLE) is an agent selectively toxic to the exocrine pancreas. We examined the effect of DLE administration on pancreatic digestive enzyme content and islet mass in adult Lewis rats and the ability of such pancreatic tissue dispersed by collagenase digestion without specific islet isolation to ameliorate diabetes when transplanted to the portal vein of syngeneic rats with streptozotocin induced diabetes. Rats fed normal chow supplemented with 0.5% DLE for 14–20 days showed a logarithmic loss of pancreatic mass. Total pancreatic amylase content declined to 0.3 + 0.1 mg, less than 3% of control values (14.3 ± 1.0 mg). Total insulin content in DLE treated rats was 87 ± 8 μg, not significantly different from control rats (101 ± 7 μg). Histological examination confirmed the selective atrophy of exocrine tissue in DLE treated rats. Fresh pancreatic tissue prepared from a single DLE treated donor ameliorated diabetes 75% of the time when transplanted to one or two recipients and 65% of the time when divided between three of four recipients. Tissue prepared from a single DLE treated donor and stored for 24–48 hours ameliorated diabetes 91% of the time when divided between one or two recipients. Only four of 31 diabetic rats transplanted with fresh pancreatic tissue from untreated adult donors became normoglycemic. Pretreatment of adult rats with DLE induces selective exocrine atrophy, permits dispersed pancreatic tissue from a single donor to ameliorate experimental diabetes in up to four recipients, and allows tissue to be preserved by culture for up to 48 hours without specific islet isolation.

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