The early loss of functional islet mass (50–70%) due to apoptosis after clinical transplantation contributes to islet allograft failure. Insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-II is an antiapoptotic protein that is highly expressed in β-cells during development but rapidly decreases in postnatal life.Methods
We used an adenoviral (Ad) vector to overexpress IGF-II in isolated rat islets and investigated its antiapoptotic action against exogenous cytokines interleukin-1β– and interferon-γ–induced islet cell death in vitro. Using an immunocompromised marginal mass islet transplant model, the ability of Ad-IGF-II–transduced rat islets to restore euglycemia in nonobese diabetic/severe combined immunodeficient diabetic recipients was assessed.Results
Ad-IGF-II transduction did not affect islet viability or function. Ad-IGF-II cytokine-treated islets exhibited decreased cell death (40%±2.8%) versus Ad-GFP and untransduced control islets (63.2%±2.5% and 53.6%±2.3%, respectively). Ad-IGF-II overexpression during cytokine treatment resulted in a marked reduction in terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase–mediated dUTP nick end labeling–positive apoptotic cells (8.3%±1.4%) versus Ad-GFP control (41%±4.2%) and untransduced control islets (46.5%±6.2%). Western blot analysis confirmed that IGF-II inhibits apoptosis via activation of the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/Akt signaling pathway. Transplantation of IGF-II overexpressing islets under the kidney capsule of diabetic mice restored euglycemia in 77.8% of recipients compared with 18.2% and 47.5% of Ad-GFP and untransduced control islet recipients, respectively (P<0.05, log-rank [Mantel–Cox] test).Conclusions
Antiapoptotic IGF-II decreases apoptosis in vitro and significantly improved islet transplant outcomes in vivo. Antiapoptotic gene transfer is a potentially powerful tool to improve islet survival after transplantation.