REINNERVATION OF TRANSPLANTED PANCREATIC ISLETS: A COMPARISON AMONG ISLETS IMPLANTED INTO THE KIDNEY, SPLEEN, AND LIVER

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Abstract

Islets transplanted beneath the kidney capsule become reinnervated during the first 3–4 months after implantation by both afferent and efferent nerve fibers. To evaluate the importance of the implantation organ for this process, the present study compared both the degree and the types of nerve fibers reinnervating islets transplanted into the liver, kidney, and spleen. For this purpose, 150 syngeneic islets were grafted under the kidney capsule of C57BL/6 mice. In addition, the same animals were injected with 150 islets into the spleen or liver. All animals were killed 14 weeks after transplantation, after which the graft-bearing organs were processed for indirect immunofluorescence for neuropeptides and tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), and with acetyl cholinesterase (AchE) staining to visualize nerve fibers. Both afferent (containing substance P and/or calcitonin gene-related peptide) and parasympathetic (containing vasoactive intestinal peptide or AchE) nerve fibers were absent from islets implanted into the spleen; an occasional CGRP fiber was seen in islets implanted into the liver; and all these fibers were regularly seen in islets implanted beneath the renal capsule. The islets implanted into the liver or spleen contained a dense network of sympathetic (containing neuropeptide Y and TH) nerve fibers that was often more dense than in the islet grafts under the kidney capsule. One-fifth of islets implanted into the liver were, however, completely devoid of demonstrable nerve fibers. In conclusion, there are marked differences with regard to the pattern of reinnervation of islets transplanted to different implantation sites.

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