Background. Our aim was to evaluate the effect of FTY720 in discordant islet xenotransplantation. Methods. Fetal porcine islet-like cell clusters (ICCs) were transplanted into normoglycemic rats that were either left untreated or treated with FTY720 only, with FTY720 plus cyclosporine A (CsA) or with CsA only. Twelve or 24 days after transplantation, graft morphology was evaluated immunohistochemically. Furthermore, adult porcine islets (APIs) were transplanted into diabetic rats immunosuppressed with FTY720 plus CsA. Blood glucose and porcine C-peptide levels were monitored. Results. In untreated rats, the ICC xenografts were completely rejected after 12 days. Treatment with CsA had only a marginal effect on the rejection. In animals given FTY720, only the number of infiltrating cells was somewhat reduced. However, at 12 days, no intact ICCs remained. Immunosuppression with FTY720 plus CsA had a marked inhibitory effect on islet xenograft rejection and plentiful morphologically intact ICCs remained. Twelve days after transplantation, only occasional macrophages and T cells could be detected. At 24 days after transplantation, the findings were similar. Furthermore, diabetic rats transplanted with APIs and immunosuppressed with FTY720 plus CsA remained normoglycemic for 53.0±15.8 days. In fact, one animal remained normoglycemic for more than 100 days. Serum levels of porcine C-peptide remained at levels similar to those for human C-peptide in healthy individuals. Conclusions. Immunosuppression with FTY720 plus CsA inhibited almost all morphological signs of pig-torat islet xenograft rejection for up to 24 days after transplantation. Diabetic rats transplanted with APIs and immunosuppressed with FTY720 plus CsA remained normoglycemic for 53.0±15.8 days.
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