Langenbeck's Archives of Surgery

, Volume 400, Issue 5, pp 531–540 | Cite as

Transplantable bioartificial pancreas devices: current status and future prospects

  • Barbara LudwigEmail author
  • Stefan Ludwig
Review Article



Islet transplantation has become a valuable therapy for patients with diabetes mellitus type 1.However, only selected patients with exhausted insulin therapy characterized by instable metabolic control and repeated severe hypoglycemia are transplant candidates. This strict indication is mainly due to the requirement for lifelong immunosuppression and the critical shortage for donor organs. Therefore, numerous research activities address these issues in order to provide beta cell replacement therapy to a broader cohort of patients with diabetes.


The encapsulation of pancreatic islets within mainly alginate-based macro- or microcapsules withvarious physical configurations may allow protecting the islet graft without the need for immunosuppressive agents and moreover expanding the donor pool to animal tissue and novel insulin-producing cells. Despite major advances in encapsulation technology, a significant translation into clinical application is not evident. There are still issues that need to be resolved associated with graft oxygenation, immunprotection, inflammatory response, material biocompatibility, and transplantation site to list some of them.


The recent advances in xenotransplantation and particularly in the field of stem cell-derived beta cells have generated a renewed scientific interest in encapsulation. This review aims to provide an overview on current encapsulation technologies as a treatment modality in cell replacement therapy for type 1 diabetes.


Diabetes Transplantation Encapsulation 



This work was supported by the University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus, Department of Medicine III, and Paul Langerhans Institute Dresden of Helmholtz Centre Munich at University Clinic Carl Gustav Carus of TU Dresden Faculty of Medicine, Technische Universität Dresden, DZD- German Centre for Diabetes Research and by grants from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft SFB/TR127 (to B.L.).

Conflicts of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Compliance with ethical standards

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus, Department of Medicine III and Center for Regenerative Therapies DresdenTechnische Universität DresdenDresdenGermany
  2. 2.Paul Langerhans Institute Dresden of the Helmholtz Centre Munich at the University Clinic Carl Gustav Carus, TU DresdenDresdenGermany
  3. 3.German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD)NeuherbergGermany
  4. 4.University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus, Department of SurgeryTechnische Universität DresdenDresdenGermany

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