Endothelialized collagen based pseudo-islets enables tuneable subcutaneous diabetes therapy

Alexander E Vlahos, Sean M Kinney, Benjamin R Kingston, Sara Keshavjee, So-Yoon Won, Anastasiya Martyts, Warren CW Chan, Michael V Sefton

Biomaterials, Volume 232, February 2020, 119710 | DOI:10.1016/j.biomaterials.2019.119710


Pancreatic islets are fragile cell clusters and many isolated islets are not suitable for transplantation. Furthermore, following transplantation, islets will experience a state of hypoxia and poor nutrient diffusion before revascularization, which is detrimental to islet survival; this is affected by islet size and health. Here we engineered tuneable size-controlled pseudo-islets created by dispersing de-aggregated islets in an endothelialized collagen scaffold. This supported subcutaneous engraftment, which returned streptozotocin-induced diabetic mice to normoglycemia. Whole-implant imaging after tissue clearing demonstrated pseudo-islets regenerated their vascular architecture and insulin-secreting β-cells were within 5 μm of a perfusable vessel – a feature unique to this approach. By using an endothelialized collagen scaffold, this work highlights a novel “bottom-up” approach to islet engineering that provides control over the size and composition of the constructs, while enabling the critical ability to revascularize and engraft when transplanted into the clinically useful subcutaneous space.