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Exploring Insulin Production Following Alveolar Islet Transplantation (AIT)


Recent studies have demonstrated the feasibility of islet implantation into the alveoli. However, until today, there are no data on islet behavior and morphology at their transplant site. This study is the first to investigate islet distribution as well insulin production at the implant site. Using an ex vivo postmortem swine model, porcine pancreatic islets were isolated and aerosolized into the lung using an endoscopic spray-catheter. Lung tissue was explanted and bronchial airways were surgically isolated and connected to a perfusor. Correct implantation was confirmed via histology. The purpose of using this new lung perfusion model was to measure static as well as dynamic insulin excretions following glucose stimulation. Alveolar islet implantation was confirmed after aerosolization. Over 82% of islets were correctly implanted into the intra-alveolar space. The medium contact area to the alveolar surface was estimated at 60 +/- 3% of the total islet surface. The new constructed lung perfusion model was technically feasible. Following static glucose stimulation, insulin secretion was detected, and dynamic glucose stimulation revealed a biphasic insulin secretion capacity during perfusion. Our data indicate that islets secrete insulin following implantation into the alveoli and display an adapted response to dynamic changes in glucose. These preliminary results are encouraging and mark a first step toward endoscopically assisted islet implantation in the lung.

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