Pig-to-primate islet xenotransplantation: Past, present, and future

Academic Article


  • © 2017 Cognizant, LLC. Islet allotransplantation results in increasing success in treating type 1 diabetes, but the shortage of deceased human donor pancreata limits progress. Islet xenotransplantation, using pigs as a source of islets, is a promising approach to overcome this limitation. The greatest obstacle is the primate immune/inflammatory response to the porcine (pig) islets, which may take the form of rapid early graft rejection (the instant blood-mediated inflammatory reaction) or T-cell-mediated rejection. These problems are being resolved by the genetic engineering of the source pigs combined with improved immunosuppressive therapy. The results of pig-to-diabetic nonhuman primate islet xenotransplantation are steadily improving, with insulin independence being achieved for periods >1 year. An alternative approach is to isolate islets within a micro- or macroencapsulation device aimed at protecting them from the human recipient’s immune response. Clinical trials using this approach are currently underway. This review focuses on the major aspects of pig-to-primate islet xenotransplantation and its potential for treatment of type 1 diabetes.
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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Liu Z; Hu W; He T; Dai Y; Hara H; Bottino R; Cooper DKC; Cai Z; Mou L
  • Start Page

  • 925
  • End Page

  • 947
  • Volume

  • 26
  • Issue

  • 6