Long-term function (6 years) of islet allografts in type 1 diabetes

Rodolfo Alejandro*, Roger Lehmann, Camillo Ricordi, Norma S. Kenyon, M. Clara Angelico, George Burke, Violet Esquenazi, Jose Nery, Arthur E. Betancourt, Shen S. Kong, Joshua Miller, Daniel H. Mintz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

146 Scopus citations


Eight type i diabetic patients, ages 29-41 years, with mean diabetes duration of 23 years (range 18-29 years) received islet transplants from 1 to 5 donors. Seven patients had stable kidney allografts 1-11 years before the islet transplant, and one patient had a simultaneous islet-kidney allograft. Patients' blood glucose control was poor as reflected by the mean ± SD HbA1(c) of 9.1 ± 1.7% before transplant. Of the first three patients, two (1 and 3) achieved insulin independence for 36 and 38 days, respectively. Two recipients rejected their islet grafts within 1 month (2 and 8) and therefore were excluded from analysis. The HbA1(c) and insulin requirement of the six remaining patients who had persistent islet function for more than 60 days was significantly reduced from 9.3 ± 1.9 to 6.4 ± 1.0% (P = 0.002) and from 0.75 ± 0.15 to 0.35 ± 0.12 U · kg-1 · day-1 (P < 0.001), respectively. The two patients with the longest graft survival (4 and 6) achieved a normalization or near-normalization of their HbA1(c) levels during 6 years in the absence of severe episodes of hypoglycemia. As demonstrated by a decline in C-peptide response during Sustacal challenge tests over a 6-year period, there was a diminution of islet allograft function over time, despite persistence of normal or near normal HbA1(c). We concluded that transplantation of allogeneic islets with an islet mass comparable with whole or segmental pancreas transplants in type I diabetic patients can result in long-term islet allograft function; further, we concluded that, in conjunction with small dosages of exogenous insulin, a functioning islet allograft can result in near-normalization of blood glucose levels and significant improvement in HbA1(c). The occurrence of severe hypoglycemic episodes observed for patients in the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial was not observed in recipients with functioning islet transplants, despite the continuous need for exogenous insulin therapy to sustain normal HbA1(c) over the 6-year follow-up. The significant improvement in metabolic control observed for the patients described in this study, and the potential to significantly decrease or halt the progression of diabetic complications, support the continued application of islet allotransplantation as a treatment modality for type I diabetic patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1983-1989
Number of pages7
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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