Aims: Long-term outcomes for islet transplantation remain suboptimal. An important determinant of islet transplantation success is vascularisation of engrafted islets. The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is a key angiogenic and pro-survival factor. In an in vivo mouse model, we investigated if EGFR overexpression in pancreatic islets improves engraftment.

Methods: Donor islets from C57BL/6 mice were infected with adenoviruses generated to encoding human EGFR alongside a GFP reporter. To assess the effects of EGFR over-expression on beta-cell identity and function, qPCR was run to determine expression of angiogenesis, beta-cell enriched and beta-cell disallowed genes compared with islets infected with control (empty vector) virus. To assess the effects of EGFR-overexpression on implantation in vivo, EGFR-overexpressing or control (empty vector) islets were transplanted into the anterior chambers of the eyes of syngeneic recipients. Using confocal microscopy, islet volume (GFP signal) and blood vessel density (following IV administration of dextran conjugated Texas Red) were assessed regularly and longitudinally over 30 days.

Results: qPCR results showed that EGFR-overexpressing islets had greater gene expression of angiogenic factors. Consistent with preserved beta-cell identity, beta-cell enriched genes were upregulated in EGFR-overexpressing islets compared to control islets, whilst beta-cell disallowed genes were repressed. EGFR-overexpressing islets demonstrating greater density compared to control islets at all time points (n=5 animals per group, 1-5 islets per eye, p<0.05).

Conclusion: We are the first to demonstrate that EGFR overexpression can promote the vascularisation of transplanted islets in vivo. The transcriptional profiling of these islets suggests an improved potential for beta-cell regenerative capacity and function.


V. Salem: None. U. Ali: None. K. Suba: None. S. Bitsi: None. T. Lopes: None. A. Martin Alonso: None. Y.S. Patel: None. I. Leclerc: Consultant; Spouse/Partner; Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. Research Support; Spouse/Partner; Servier. B. Owen: None. G.A. Rutter: Consultant; Self; Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. Research Support; Self; Servier, Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. S.M. Rothery: None. A. Tomas: None.


Diabetes UK (15/0005317)

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