Nonenzymic in vitro isolation of perinatal islets of Langerhans

Orion D. Hegre, Sue Marshall, Bradley A. Schulte, Gregg E. Hickey, Frank Williams, Robert L. Sorenson, Janet R. Serie

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We have developed a method to circumvent the use of exogenous proteolytic enzymes in the isolation of islets of Langerhans from the perinatal rodent pancreas. Advantage is taken of the propensity of fibroblastlike cells to attach and migrate on polystyrene at low-serum concentrations (5%). In contrast, at this serum level, rat islet epithelial cells tend not to adhere to the substrate. At 3 d of culture, islets are visible at the edges of the explants. With further fibroblast outgrowth the majority of islets are freefloating by 7 d. Simple agitation of the medium and centrifugation yields approximately 50 μg of islet tissue per perinatal pancreas. Further purification of the islets can be obtained by subculture. Rat islets can be maintained in this manner for several months in Medium F12 supplemented with 25% horse serum in an atmosphere of 5% CO2 and air at 37° C. Hormone content of the islet tissue remains constant during prolonged subculture and such islets continue to exhibit appropriate insulin and glucagon responses to glucose and theophylline. The morphological integrity of the endocrine cells within the cultured islets was confirmed by immunocytochemistry and ultrastructural study. Nonendocrine cells are not identifiable within the long-term cultured islets.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)611-620
Number of pages10
JournalIn Vitro
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 1983


  • epithelial cell culture
  • islet isolation
  • islets of Langerhans

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