Design of a vascularized synthetic poly(ethylene glycol) macroencapsulation device for islet transplantation

Jessica D. Weaver, Devon M. Headen, Michael D. Hunckler, Maria M. Coronel, Cherie L. Stabler, Andrés J. García

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations


The use of immunoisolating macrodevices in islet transplantation confers the benefit of safety and translatability by containing transplanted cells within a single retrievable device. To date, there has been limited development and characterization of synthetic poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG)-based hydrogel macrodevices for islet encapsulation and transplantation. Herein, we describe a two-component synthetic PEG hydrogel macrodevice system, designed for islet delivery to an extrahepatic islet transplant site, consisting of a hydrogel core cross-linked with a non-degradable PEG dithiol and a vasculogenic outer layer cross-linked with a proteolytically sensitive peptide to promote degradation and enhance localized vascularization. Synthetic PEG macrodevices exhibited equivalent passive molecular transport to traditional microencapsulation materials (e.g., alginate) and long-term stability in the presence of proteases in vitro and in vivo, out to 14 weeks in rats. Encapsulated islets demonstrated high viability within the device in vitro and the incorporation of RGD adhesive peptides within the islet encapsulating PEG hydrogel improved insulin responsiveness to a glucose challenge. In vivo, the implementation of a vasculogenic, degradable hydrogel layer at the outer interface of the macrodevice enhanced vascular density within the rat omentum transplant site, resulting in improved encapsulated islet viability in a syngeneic diabetic rat model. These results highlight the benefits of the facile PEG platform to provide controlled presentation of islet-supportive ligands, as well as degradable interfaces for the promotion of engraftment and overall graft efficacy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)54-65
Number of pages12
StatePublished - Jul 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Encapsulation
  • Islet transplantation
  • Omentum transplantation
  • Vascularization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Biophysics
  • Biomaterials
  • Mechanics of Materials


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