Background Subcutaneous islet transplantation is associated with minimal invasiveness, but poor vascularization. Thus, the optimization of the prevascularization procedures is crucial for improving the outcomes. Although the effectiveness of basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) was reported, the optimal procedures remain unclear. We sought to optimize the prevascularization procedures including the use of a novel scaffold, recombinant peptide (RCP). Methods Devices containing various amount of bFGF with/without heparin or RCP were implanted into the subcutaneous space of diabetic C57BL/6 mice. Syngeneic islets were transplanted into the prevascularized space. Blood glucose, intraperitoneal glucose tolerance, and immunohistochemistry were evaluated. Results The cure rates in all the device groups irrespective of bFGF doses were considerably higher than in the nondevice group. The cure rate in the bFGF0 group was unexpectedly higher than that in the subcutaneous islet transplant alone group (the None group) (57.1% vs 28.6%). Glucose tolerance was ameliorated in the bFGF10(-), 10(+) and 15(-) groups. The number of von Willebrand factor-positive vessels in the bFGF10(+) group was significantly higher than that in the None and bFGF0 groups (P < 0.01). Taken together, the bFGF10(+) group was considered to have received optimized procedures. In a marginal graft model, the efficiency in the RCP group was better than that in the bFGF10(+) group, furthermore, comparable to that in the intraportal transplantation group. Unlike bFGF, no bleeding and effusion were observed in the RCP group. Conclusions These results suggest that optimizing biomaterials to induce efficient prevascularization could be a novel strategy for improving subcutaneous islet transplantation.
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