The Flaws and Future of Islet Volume Measurements




Huang, Han-Hung
Harrington, Stephen
Stehno-Bittel, Lisa

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When working with isolated islet preparations, measuring the volume of tissue is not a trivial matter. Islets come in a large range of sizes and are often contaminated with exocrine tissue. Many factors complicate the procedure, and yet knowledge of the islet volume is essential for predicting the success of an islet transplant or comparing experimental groups in the laboratory. In 1990, Ricordi presented the islet equivalency (IEQ), defined as one IEQ equaling a single spherical islet of 150 μm in diameter. The method for estimating IEQ was developed by visualizing islets in a microscope, estimating their diameter in 50 μm categories and calculating a total volume for the preparation. Shortly after its introduction, the IEQ was adopted as the standard method for islet volume measurements. It has helped to advance research in the field by providing a useful tool improving the reproducibility of islet research and eventually the success of clinical islet transplants. However, the accuracy of the IEQ method has been questioned for years and many alternatives have been proposed, but none have been able to replace the widespread use of the IEQ. This article reviews the history of the IEQ, and discusses the benefits and failings of the measurement. A thorough evaluation of alternatives for estimating islet volume is provided along with the steps needed to uniformly move to an improved method of islet volume estimation. The lessons learned from islet researchers may serve as a guide for other fields of regenerative medicine as cell clusters become a more attractive therapeutic option.




Huang, H.-H., Harrington, S., & Stehno-Bittel, L. (2018). The flaws and future of Islet Volume Measurements. Cell Transplantation, 27(7), 1017–1026.