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Serum is regarded as an essential supplement to promote survival and growth of cells during culture. However, the potential risk of transmitting diseases disqualifies the use of serum for clinical cell therapy in most countries. Hence, most clinical cell therapy programs have replaced human serum with human serum albumin, which can result in inferior quality of released cell products. Photochemical treatment of different blood products utilizing Intercept® technology has been shown to inactivate a broad variety of pathogens of RNA and DNA origin. The present study assesses the feasibility of using pathogen-inactivated, blood group-compatible serum for use in human pancreatic islet culture. Isolated human islets were cultured at 37°C for 3-4 days in CMRL 1066 supplemented with 10% of either pathogen-inactivated or nontreated human serum. Islet quality assessment included glucose-stimulated insulin release (perifusion), ADP/ATP ratio, cytokine expression, and posttransplant function in diabetic nude mice. No differences were found between islets cultured in pathogen-inactivated or control serum regarding stimulated insulin release, intracellular insulin content, and ADP/ATP ratio. Whether media was supplemented with treated or nontreated serum, islet expression of IL-6, IL-8, MCP-1, or tissue factor was not affected. The final diabetes-reversal rate of mice receiving islets cultured in pathogen-inactivated or nontreated serum was 78% and 87%, respectively (NS). As reported here, pathogen-inactivated human serum does not affect viability or functional integrity of cultured human islets. The implementation of this technology for RNA- and DNA-based pathogen inactivation should enable reintroduction of human serum for clinical cell therapy.

Original publication




Journal article


Cell Transplant

Publication Date





775 - 781


Animals, Cells, Cultured, Chemokine CCL2, Disinfection, Humans, Insulin, Interleukin-6, Interleukin-8, Islets of Langerhans, Islets of Langerhans Transplantation, Mice, Mice, Nude, Serum, Thromboplastin