Immunocytochemical detection and characterization of intrahepatic human pancreatic islets after combined liver-islet allotransplantation

Lucio Scopsi, Salvatore Andreola, Carlo Socci, Federico Bertuzzi, Valerio Di Carlo, Guido Pozza, Franco Rilke, Leandro Gennari, Giovanni Colella, Enrico Regalia, Vincenzo Mazzaferro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The unique availability of an explanted liver-islet allograft, removed for primary nonfunction of the liver, led us to evaluate distribution and phenotype of exocrine and endocrine components of the pancreatic graft. Immunocytochemistry was used to map patterns of gene products for islet hormones, proprotein processing enzymes, panneuroendocrine markers, and pancreatic exocrine markers. When compared with age-matched control pancreases, insulin-, glucagon-, somatostatin-, and pancreatic polypeptide-producing cells were similarly represented and distributed within the grafted islet. We also demonstrate that the intra-hepatic transplanted islets retained the enzyme machinery able to process the hormone precursors into bioactive fragments. In the clinical setting, this resulted in an immediate functioning of the graft and insulin-independence of the patient one month after transplantation. The purity in islets, as assessed by immunocytochemistry with antibodies to tissue constituents of endocrine and exocrine lineages, was around 40%. Despite the massive intraportal presence of pancreatic acinar tissue, no signs or symptoms attributable to ectopic hypersecretion of exocrine enzymes occurred. In fact, when tested with antibodies to such enzymes, low levels of immunoreactivity were observed in the grafted acinar cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)499-508
Number of pages10
JournalCell Transplantation
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1994


  • Immunocytochemistry
  • Islet transplantation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Transplantation
  • Cell Biology


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