Advantages of using a cell separator and metrizamide gradients for human islet purification
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Human islet transplantation has a high rate of failure, often due to primary nonfunction, which suggests that islets are damaged during the processing of the pancreas. The preparation of human islets for transplantation is still a complex process that requires large teams of surgical and laboratory personnel. To overcome this problem, we have adopted the use of the IBM 2991 COBE cell separator and a metrizamide/Ficoll density medium that is easy to prepare. Twenty-seven pancreatic glands have been processed using the COBE cell separator, 23 of which were purified in metrizamide/Ficoll gradients and 4 in bovine serum albumin gradients. The results show an improvement of recovery and viability in these preparations when compared retrospectively with manual gradients. More importantly, the time required for purification was shortened to one fourth the usual time and total processing time is about half as long. Moreover, a team of two laboratory staff was regularly able to prepare islets for transplantation, reducing the separation time from 7 hr to 3.5 hr. We conclude that the automatic cell separator and metrizamide-based separation medium are useful modifications of current islet purification methods.