Extracellular matrix inclusion in immunoisolating alginate-based microcapsules promotes longevity, reduces fibrosis, and supports function of islet allografts in vivo

Rei Kuwabara, Tian Qin*, L. Alberto Llacua, Shuxian Hu, Mark V. Boekschoten, Bart J. de Haan, Alexandra M. Smink, Paul de Vos

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Immunoisolation of pancreatic-islets in alginate-microcapsules is applied to treat diabetes. However, long-term islet function is limited, which might be due to damaged and lack of contact with pancreatic extracellular matrix (ECM) components. Herein we investigated the impact of collagen IV combined with laminin sequences, either RGD, LRE, or PDSGR, on graft-survival of microencapsulated bioluminescent islets in vivo. Collagen IV with RGD had the most pronounced effect. It enhanced after 8-week implantation in immune-incompetent mice the bioluminescence of allogeneic islets by 3.2-fold, oxygen consumption rate by 14.3-fold and glucose-induced insulin release by 9.6-fold. Transcriptomics demonstrated that ECM enhanced canonical pathways involving insulin-secretion and that it suppressed pathways related to inflammation and hypoxic stress. Also, 5.8-fold fewer capsules were affected by fibrosis. In a subsequent longevity study in immune-competent mice, microencapsulated allografts containing collagen IV and RGD had a 2.4-fold higher functionality in the first week after implantation and remained at least 2.1-fold higher during the study. Islets in microcapsules containing collagen IV and RGD survived 211 ± 24.1 days while controls survived 125 ± 19.7 days. Our findings provide in vivo evidence for the efficacy of supplementing immunoisolating devices with specific ECM components to enhance functionality and longevity of islet-grafts in vivo. Statement of significance: Limitations in duration of survival of immunoisolated pancreatic islet grafts is a major obstacle for application of the technology to treat diabetes. Accumulating evidence supports that incorporation of extracellular matrix (ECM) molecules in the capsules enhances longevity of pancreatic islets. After selection of the most efficacious laminin sequence in vitro, we show in vivo that inclusion of collagen IV and RGD in alginate-based microcapsules enhances survival, insulin secretion function, and mitochondrial function. It also suppresses fibrosis by lowering proinflammatory cytokines secretion. Moreover, transcriptomic analysis shows that ECM-inclusion promotes insulin-secretion related pathways and attenuates inflammation and hypoxic stress related pathways in islets. We show that inclusion of ECM in immunoisolating devices is a promising strategy to promote long-term survival of islet-grafts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-162
JournalActa Biomaterialia
Early online date5 Jan 2023
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023


  • Alginate
  • Extracellular matrix
  • Islet transplantation
  • Microencapsulation
  • Type 1 diabetes


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