Oxygenation strategies for encapsulated islet and beta cell transplants

Klearchos K. Papas, Hector De Leon, Thomas M. Suszynski, Robert C. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Human allogeneic islet transplantation (ITx) is emerging as a promising treatment option for qualified patients with type 1 diabetes. However, widespread clinical application of allogeneic ITx is hindered by two critical barriers: the need for systemic immunosuppression and the limited supply of human islet tissue. Biocompatible, retrievable immunoisolation devices containing glucose-responsive insulin-secreting tissue may address both critical barriers by enabling the more effective and efficient use of allogeneic islets without immunosuppression in the near-term, and ultimately the use of a cell source with a virtually unlimited supply, such as human stem cell-derived β-cells or xenogeneic (porcine) islets with minimal or no immunosuppression. However, even though encapsulation methods have been developed and immunoprotection has been successfully tested in small and large animal models and to a limited extent in proof-of-concept clinical studies, the effective use of encapsulation approaches to convincingly and consistently treat diabetes in humans has yet to be demonstrated. There is increasing consensus that inadequate oxygen supply is a major factor limiting their clinical translation and routine implementation. Poor oxygenation negatively affects cell viability and β-cell function, and the problem is exacerbated with the high-density seeding required for reasonably-sized clinical encapsulation devices. Approaches for enhanced oxygen delivery to encapsulated tissues in implantable devices are therefore being actively developed and tested. This review summarizes fundamental aspects of islet microarchitecture and β-cell physiology as well as encapsulation approaches highlighting the need for adequate oxygenation; it also evaluates existing and emerging approaches for enhanced oxygen delivery to encapsulation devices, particularly with the advent of β-cell sources from stem cells that may enable the large-scale application of this approach.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)139-156
Number of pages18
JournalAdvanced Drug Delivery Reviews
StatePublished - Jan 15 2019


  • Devices
  • Diabetes
  • Encapsulation
  • Islet transplantation
  • Oxygen

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmaceutical Science


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