Generation of immunologically invisible transgenic porcine pancreatic islet cell clusters after single cell engineering and islet reassembling to support xenograft survival

Xenotransplantation of transgenic porcine pancreatic islets offers a promising alternative source to circumvent current limitations posed by the scarcity of allogeneic donors. We have investigated the feasibility to generate tissue engineered SLA silenced islet cell clusters (ICC) to decrease xenogeneic immune responses Pancreatic islets single cell suspensions were generated by enzymatic digestion of porcine ICCs. Single cells were silenced for SLA expression by lentiviral vectors encoding for Nanoluciferase as reporter gene and for short hairpin RNAs targeting beta2-microglobulin or class II transactivator, respectively. SLA transcripts were evaluated by real-time PCR and protein levels by flow cytometry and fluorescence microscopy analyses. The effect of SLA silencing was evaluated in human T and NK cell cytotoxicity assays. SLA-silenced pancreatic beta-cells were then reassembled into ICCs in stirred bioreactors. SLA class I silencing reached a level of up to 84% and class II by up to 50% on pancreatic islet cell. Silencing SLA expression did not affect cell viability and the insulin-producing beta-cell phenotype. Xenogeneic T-cell immune responses (p < 0.05) as well as antibody-mediated cellular-dependent immune responses (p < 0.01) were significantly decreased. Silencing SLA class I expression did not increase susceptibility to NK-cell cytotoxicity. In stirred bioreactors, tissue engineered islets showing the typical 3D-structure and morphology of ICC were assembled from SLA-silenced pancreatic cell suspensions. These data shows the feasibility to generate low immunogenic porcine ICC from transgenic pigs after single cell engineering and post-transduction islet reassembling that might serve as a robust alternative to allogeneic pancreatic islet cell transplantation.


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