Fibroblast proliferation regularly impedes the initiation and maintenance of pancreatic islet monolayers in culture. We recently characterized a specific cytotoxin to cells expressing the basic fibroblast growth factor receptor by conjugating the growth factor to saporin-6, a ribosome-inactivating protein. In contrast to untreated islets, isolated adult rat islets grown on a substrate prepared from bovine corneal endothelial cells and incubated with the mitotoxin at 10-nM concentration for 96 h were free of contaminating fibroblasts. Histological and functional studies revealed there was no damage to the islets. The results suggest that treatment of this cell type with basic fibroblast growth factor mitotoxins may be an important tool for culture of pure islets for physiological and clinical studies.

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