Keep on rolling: Optimizing human islet transport conditions using a perfused rotary system

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The setup of an islet isolation facility designed along the rules of good manufacturing practice (GMP) is a technically challenging, cost and time intensive process.1 Consequently, several institutions have decided to perform transplantation of islets isolated at another center with an already standing expertise. Such a solution includes the necessity to transport the isolated islets from the isolation to the transplantation facility. In spite of its importance, an ideal solution for the transport of the isolated human islets has still not been established.

Here, we present an islet transport device suited to transport human islet cells under reproducible conditions and minimized cell stress. The transport simulation of the human islets was performed in a transfused “rotary transport system for islets” termed “ROTi.” Besides measuring standard metabolic (LDH, lactate, glucose) and physical parameters (pH, dissolved oxygen and temperature), we used five different live stains in combination with real time live confocal microscopy to document islet quality parameters. As live stains we added tetramethylrhodamine methyl ester, cell permeant acetoxymethylester, propidium iodide, annexin-fitc and fluorescent wheat germ agglutinin, and assessed mitochondrial membrane potentials, calcium levels, cell death, apoptosis or cell morphology, respectively.

We compared the viability of human islets after 24 h incubation in the ROTi device to an incubation simulating “standard” shipment of islets in 50 ml tubes. All cell viability parameters studied (mitochondrial membrane potentials, calcium content, apoptosis, cell death as well as cell morphology) documented a significantly better cell viability in the ROTi fraction compared with the simulated “standard” shipment fraction. Besides maintaining islet cell viability, the ROTi bears the advantage of a better reproducibility of islet transport conditions.

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