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During the isolation procedure and after transplantation islets are subjected to numerous variables associated with the induction of apoptosis. The present study investigated the effect of transient pretreatment with caspase inhibitors on function and survival of transplanted pig islets. Isolated porcine islets (3000 IEQ) were incubated overnight in 200 microM of the caspase-3 inhibitor DEVD-CMK prior to transplantation into diabetic nude mice. Glucose-stimulated insulin release of pretreated islets was assessed during static incubation. DEVD-CMK successfully prevented the expression of capase-3 and DFF as demonstrated in heat-shocked pig islets. Nevertheless, transient pretreatment of freshly isolated pig islets with DEVD-CMK resulted in a significantly decreased final graft function of 50.0% (n = 16) compared to 85.7% (n = 14) in control islets (p < 0.05). Glucose-stimulated insulin release of porcine islets (n = 6) was not significantly effected by overnight culture with DEVD-CMK. Morphological assessment revealed that this caspase-3 inhibitor significantly increased the percentage of necrosis to a small, but nevertheless significant, extent in comparison to control islets (p < 0.05). The study demonstrates that short-time pretreatment with the caspase-3 inhibitor DEVD-CMK reduces the capacity of transplanted porcine islets to restore normoglycemia in diabetic nude mice.

Original publication




Journal article


Cell Transplant

Publication Date





311 - 317


Amino Acid Chloromethyl Ketones, Animals, Apoptosis, Blood Glucose, Caspase 3, Caspase Inhibitors, Caspases, Cysteine Proteinase Inhibitors, Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental, Graft Survival, In Vitro Techniques, Islets of Langerhans, Islets of Langerhans Transplantation, Male, Mice, Mice, Inbred C57BL, Mice, Inbred Strains, Mice, Nude, Swine, Transplantation, Heterologous