Human fetal pancreata (HFP) were obtained from dilatation and extraction aborted fetuses of 11-18 weeks' gestation. The pancreas was excised under sterile conditions and kept in culture medium at 4 °C, prior to stepwise digestion into 50- to 150-μm fragments. The fragmented pieces were allowed to sediment by gravity, then transferred to tissue culture for 24-48 h, and cryopreserved. The freeze-thaw protocol used stepwise equilibration with dimethyl sulfoxide, nucleation of the sample at -10 °C, and a slow cooling rate of 0.25 °C/min to -40 °C, followed by submersion in liquid nitrogen (-196 °C). Rapid thawing at 300 °C/min from -196 °C was employed. Both fresh and frozen-thawed HFP fragments appeared viable as judged by light and electron microscopy, and secreted insulin in a perifusion system upon stimulation with glucose (28 mM) and theophylline (10 mM) or glucose (2.8 mM) and theophylline (10 mM). Six patients with Type I insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, already requiring immunosuppression for a kidney transplant, had intraportal injection of 20 cryopreserved-thawed and pooled HFP fragments. Up to the 1-year post-transplant follow-up, there has been no evidence of in vivo insulin or C-peptide production. The usefulness of cryopreserved human fetal pancreata as a source of insulin-producing tissue for diabetic patients, therefore, remains to be demonstrated.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)