Mold-casted non-degradable, islet macro-encapsulating hydrogel devices for restoration of normoglycemia in diabetic mice

Peter Daniel Rios, Xiaomin Zhang, Xunrong Luo, Lonnie D. Shea*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Islet transplantation is a potential cure for diabetic patients, however this procedure is not widely adopted due to the high rate of graft failure. Islet encapsulation within hydrogels is employed to provide a three-dimensional microenvironment conducive to survival of transplanted islets to extend graft function. Herein, we present a novel macroencapsulation device, composed of PEG hydrogel, that combines encapsulation with lithography techniques to generate polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) molds. PEG solutions are mixed with islets, which are then cast into PDMS molds for subsequent crosslinking. The molds can also be employed to provide complex architectures, such as microchannels that may allow vascular ingrowth through pre-defined regions of the hydrogel. PDMS molds allowed for the formation of stable gels with encapsulation of islets, and in complex architectures. Hydrogel devices with a thickness of 600 μm containing 500 islets promoted normoglycemia within 12 days following transplantation into the epididymal fat pad, which was sustained over the two-month period of study until removal of the device. The inclusion of microchannels, which had a similar minimum distance between islets and the hydrogel surface, similarly promoted normoglycemia. A glucose challenge test indicated hydrogel devices achieved normoglycemia 90 min post-dextrose injections, similar to control mice with native pancreata. Histochemical staining revealed that transplanted islets, identified as insulin positive, were viable and isolated from host tissue at 8 weeks post-transplantation, yet devices with microchannels had tissue and vascular ingrowth within the channels. Taken together, these results demonstrate a system for creating non-degradable hydrogels with complex geometries for encapsulating islets capable of restoring normoglycemia, which may expand islet transplantation as a treatment option for diabetic patients. Biotechnol. Bioeng. 2016;113: 2485–2495.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2485-2495
Number of pages11
JournalBiotechnology and Bioengineering
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016


  • encapsulation
  • hydrogel
  • macroencapsulation device
  • microchannels
  • polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS)
  • polyethylene glycol (PEG)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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