Pancreatic islets, isolated from neonatal pigs, and Sertoli cells, isolated from prepubertal rats, were cocultured in simulated microgravity utilizing the NASA-developed highly accelerating, rotating vessel (HARV) biochamber. Following 5 d of incubation, three-dimensional Sertoli–islet cell aggregates (SICA) retained the ability to secrete insulin when exposed to elevated glucose. SICA contained FasL-positive Sertoli cells and insulin-positive β-cells randomly organized within the spherical construct. The addition of 1% Matrigel induced the reorganization of aggregates (SICAs formed in the presence of Matrigel [SICAmgs]) showing the peripherialization and epithelialization of Sertoli cells and the centralization of islets in association with lumen-like spaces. The Sertoli cells, but not Matrigel, aided in preserving the structural integrity of HARV-incubated islets. Neither Matrigel nor Sertoli cells appeared to interfere with the ability of SICA or SICAmg to secrete insulin and express FasL.
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Vol. 37 • No. 8