Real architecture for 3D Tissue (RAFT™) culture system improves viability and maintains insulin and glucagon production of mouse pancreatic islet cells

Gabor J. Szebeni, Zsuzsanna Tancos, Liliana Z. Feher, Robert Alfoldi, Julianna Kobolak, Andras Dinnyes,corresponding author and Laszlo G. Puskas corresponding author

There is an unmet medical need for the improvement of pancreatic islet maintenance in culture. Due to restricted donor availability it is essential to ameliorate islet viability and graft engraftment. The aim of this study was to compare the standard tissue culture techniques with the advanced Real Architecture For 3D Tissue (RAFT™) culture system in terms of viability and hormone production. Here, we first report that islets embedded in RAFT™ collagen type I advanced tissue culture system maintain their tissue integrity better than in monolayer and suspension cultures. The Calcein violet assay and Annexin V/propidium-iodide staining show higher cell viability in the RAFT™ culture system. Quantitative real-time PCR data showed that RAFT™ increases insulin expression after 18 days in culture compared to traditional methods. Enhanced insulin and glucagon production was further verified by immunofluorescent staining in a time-course manner. These results indicate that RAFT™ tissue culture platform can be a promising tool to maintain pancreatic islet spheroid integrity and culture islets for downstream high throughput pharmacological studies ex vivo.