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Assessment of specific β-cell death can be used to determine the quality and viability of pancreatic islets prior to transplantation and hence predict the suitability of the pancreas for isolation. Recently, several groups have demonstrated that unmethylated insulin (INS)-DNA is correlated to β-cell death in type 1 diabetes patients and during clinical islet isolation and subsequent transplantation. Here, we present a step-by-step protocol of our novel developed method for quantification of the relative amount of unmethylated INS-DNA using methylation sensitive restriction enzyme digital polymerase chain reaction This method provides a novel and sensitive way to quantify the relative amount of β-cell derived unmethylated INS-DNA in cellular lysate. We therefore suggest that this technique can be of value to reliably determine the purity of an islet preparation and may also serve as a measure of the quality of islets prior to transplantation measuring unmethylated INS-DNA as a reflection of the relative amount of lysed β-cells.

Original publication




Journal article


Transpl Int

Publication Date





biomarker, digital PCR, islets, methylation sensitive restriction enzyme, transplantation, unmethylated insulin DNA, β-cell, DNA, DNA Methylation, Humans, Insulin, Insulin-Secreting Cells, Islets of Langerhans, Polymerase Chain Reaction