Oxygen transporter for the hypoxic transplantation site
Cell transplantation is a promising treatment for complementing lost function by replacing new cells with a desired function, e.g. pancreatic islet transplantation for diabetics. To prevent cell obliteration, oxygen supply is critical after transplantation, especially until the graft is sufficiently re-vascularized. To supply oxygen during this period, we developed a chemical-/electrical-free implantable oxygen transporter that delivers oxygen to the hypoxic graft site from ambient air by diffusion potential. This device is simply structured using a biocompatible silicone-based body that holds islets, connected to a tube that opens outside the body. In computational simulations, the oxygen transporter increased the oxygen level to >120 mmHg within grafts; in contrast, a control device that did not transport oxygen showed <6.5 mmHg. In vitro experiments demonstrated similar results. To test the effectiveness of the oxygen transporter in vivo, we transplanted pancreatic islets, which are susceptible to hypoxia, subcutaneously into diabetic rats. Islets transplanted using the oxygen transporter showed improved graft viability and cellular function over the control device. These results indicate that our oxygen transporter, which is safe and easily fabricated, effectively supplies oxygen locally. Such a device would be suitable for multiple clinical applications, including cell transplantations that require changing a hypoxic microenvironment into an oxygen-rich site.