Polymer rods impregnated with lyophilized particles of mouse (M) or rat (R) antilymphocyte serum (ALS) were placed adjacent to rat islet xenografts transplanted beneath the kidney capsule of diabetic mice. Insertion of rods containing only MALS or RALS had no effect on the survival time of the rat islet xenografts. In contrast, the insertion of both MALS and RALS rods with the graft produced a marked prolongation of islet xenograft survival (mean survival time >55.5 ± 10.9 days) compared with controls (14.7 ± 2.5 days). One recipient was still normoglycemic at 100 days, and removal of the graft returned the animal to a diabetic state. The islet graft had a normal degree of β-granulation, and a slight fibrotic reaction was present around the rods. The effect of the rods in prolonging survival of the xenografts resulted from a local slow release of MALS and RALS, because implantation of the MALS and RALS rods in the right kidney and the islets in the left kidney had no effect on prolonging islet xenograft survival. These findings indicate that local immunosuppression produced marked prolongation of rat islet xenograft survival in mice. This raises the possibility of using polymer rods for the local slow release of monoclonal antibodies to lymphokines and other agents for prevention of rejection of islet allografts and xenografts and to determine the effect of lymphokines in vivo on islet function.

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