Retention of gene expression in porcine islets after agarose encapsulation and long-term culture
Islets of Langerhans
Agarose encapsulation of porcine islets allows extended in vitro culture, providing ample time to determine the functional capacity of the islets and conduct comprehensive microbiological safety testing prior to implantation as a treatment for type 1 diabetes mellitus. However, the effect that agarose encapsulation and long-term culture may have on porcine islet gene expression is unknown. The aim of the present study was to compare the transcriptome of encapsulated porcine islets following long-term in vitro culture against free islets cultured overnight. Global gene expression analysis revealed no significant change in the expression of 98.47% of genes. This indicates that the gene expression profile of free islets is highly conserved following encapsulation and long-term culture. Importantly, the expression levels of genes that code for critical hormones secreted by islets (insulin, glucagon, and somatostatin) as well as transcripts encoding proteins involved in their packaging and secretion are unchanged. While a small number of genes known to play roles in the insulin secretion and insulin signaling pathways are differentially expressed, our results show that overall gene expression is retained following islet isolation, agarose encapsulation, and long-term culture.