Eight 18-day fetal pancreases were transplanted to syngeneic alloxan diabetic male rats. Some of the recipients were treated with insulin for a 7-day period immediately after transplant. By previously published clinical criteria, three groups of recipients could be identified after reversal of diabetes by the transplanted tissue: insulin-treated rapid reversal; insulin-treated slow reversal; and control (not treated with insulin). Five animals in each group were sacrificed after glucose tolerance testing for morphologic and hormonal analysis of the transplanted tissue. The insulin-, glucagon-, and somatostatin-positive islet cell masses of the fetal pancreatic implants were quantitated.
There was a correlation between the beta cell mass of of the implants and the glucose tolerance exhibited by the host animals. The rapid response insulin-treated recipients had significantly greater implant beta cell mass and insulin content compared with the other groups. There was no difference in implant alpha cell mass among the groups, but the insulin-treated implants had a significantly greater glucagon content. The delta cell mass of insulin-treated rapid response was less than that of the other two groups.
The results are discussed in relation to previously reported morphometric analysis 15 days after transplantation. The relationships of transplanted beta cell mass, beta cell differentiation, transplant site, and cell-to-cell interactions within the transplanted islet to the control of glucose homeostasis are also discussed.