Although human islet transplantation has been established as valid and safe treatment for patients with type 1 diabetes, the utilization rates of human pancreases for clinical islet transplantation are still limited and substantially determined by the quality and composition of collagenase blends. While function and integrity of collagenase has been extensively investigated, information is still lacking about the most suitable supplementary neutral proteases. The present study compared islet isolation outcome after pancreas digestion by means of collagenase used alone or supplemented with either neutral protease (NP), clostripain (CP), or both proteases. Decent amounts of islet equivalents (IEQ) were isolated using collagenase alone (3090 ± 550 IEQ/g), or in combination with NP (2340 ± 450 IEQ/g) or CP (2740 ± 280 IEQ/g). Nevertheless, the proportion of undigested tissue was higher after using collagenase alone (21.1 ± 1.1%, P < 0.05) compared with addition of NP (13.3 ± 2.2%) or CP plus NP (13.7 ± 2.6%). Likewise, the percentage of embedded islets was highest using collagenase only (13 ± 2%) and lowest adding NP plus CP (4 ± 1%, P < 0.01). The latter combination resulted in lowest post-culture overall survival (42.7 ± 3.9%), while highest survival was observed after supplementation with CP (74.5 ± 4.8%, P < 0.01). An insulin response toward glucose challenge was present in all experimental groups, but the stimulation index was significantly decreased using collagenase plus NP (2.0 ± 0.12) compared with supplementation with CP (3.16 ± 0.4, P < 0.001). This study demonstrates for the first time that it is possible to isolate significant numbers of human islets combining collagenase only with CP. The supplementation with CP is an effective means to substantially reduce NP activity, which significantly decreases survival and viability after culture. This will facilitate the manufacturing of enzyme blends with less harmful characteristics.
clostripain, collagenase, human islet isolation, human islet transplantation, neutral protease