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The purpose of the present study was to determine immunosuppressive effects of a new immunosuppressive agent, FK506, on rat islet allografts and also whether FK is toxic to the islet grafts since the diabetogenic effects of FK is controversial. Hand-picked clean fresh islets (WKA/Qdj:RT1u) were transplanted either beneath the renal capsule or into the liver via the portal vein of the diabetic (STZ, 60 mg/kg) rats (Lewis: RT11). FK506 was administered s. c. for 7 days after transplantation. The mean survival times (MST)* of the renal subcapsular grafts receiving 0 (control), 0.32 or 1.0 mg/ kg FK were 7.2 ± 1.1 (mean ± SD, n = 5), 13.8 ± 4.8 (n = 4), and 20.2 ± 8.0 days (n = 5), respectively. The MST of the intrahepatic grafts receiving 0, 0.1, 0.32, or 1.0 mg/kg FK were 4.4 ± 1.1 (n = 5), 7.2 ± 0.8 (n = 5), > 45.3 ± 23.1 (n = 6) or > 54.4±8.8 days (n = 5), respectively. Histologically, islets were found easily in the liver of normoglycemic recipients for more than 60 days after transplantation and appeared intact, with well-granulated beta cells. Foci of mononuclear cells were occasionally seen adjacent to the islet cells. The plasma glucose of the recipients with 1.0 mg/kg FK fluctuated between 150 and 350 mg/dl without rejection. In the recipients treated with 3.2 mg/kg FK the plasma glucose of all the recipients (n = 3) returned to pretransplant levels by 21 days after transplantation. However, islet cells were present in the liver of all these recipients without mononuclear cell infiltration. Immunohisto-chemically islet grafts stained weakly for insulin, but to the same extent as the controls for glucagon and somatostatin. These findings clearly demonstrate the immunosuppressive effect of FK506 on islet allografts and the importance of the transplant site for prolongation of graft survival by FK, and also suggest that FK has toxic effects on the islet grafts (B cells) when used in high dosages.