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The induction of heat shock proteins (HSP) protects isolated islet cells against the cytotoxicity of inflammatory mediators in vitro. Very little information is available about the effect of HSP overexpression on function of preconditioned islet grafts. The present study investigated the function of heat-exposed pig islets after transplantation into immunocompetent mice in comparison with in vitro resistance against inflammatory mediators. Pig islets were preconditioned at 43 degrees C or sham treated prior to subcapsular transplantation into diabetic C57/Bl6j mice. Nondiabetic mice simultaneously receiving preconditioned and control islets were subjected to bilateral nephrectomy for determination of pig insulin. Resistance against H2O2, NO, human Il-1beta, IFN-gamma, or TNF-alpha was assessed by trypan blue exclusion and insulin determination. Heat-induced protein expression was confirmed by Western blot analysis. Graft preconditioning increased resistance against H2O2, NO, or cytokines (p < 0.05) but decreased survival in nondiabetic mice (p < 0.05) and function in diabetic mice (p < 0.01). Upregulation of caspase-3 activity as well as Bax, Fas, FasL, and DFF expression (p < 0.05) indicated simultaneous induction of apoptosis. The coexpression of HSP and proapoptotic proteins reveals the dual character of the stress response simultaneously starting mechanisms for protection and apoptosis. In vitro assays seem to reflect only insufficiently the situation of islets after transplantation.

Original publication




Journal article


Cell Transplant

Publication Date





859 - 865


Animals, Apoptosis, Cell Survival, Cytokines, Fever, Graft Rejection, Heat-Shock Proteins, Humans, Hydrogen Peroxide, Inflammation, Islets of Langerhans, Islets of Langerhans Transplantation, Mice, Mice, Inbred C57BL, Oxidants, Swine, Transplantation Conditioning, Transplantation, Heterologous