Long-term effects of islet transplantation

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Abstract

Purpose of review

Islet transplantation has made great progress in recent years. This is a remarkable technical feat but raises the question of what the long-term benefits and risks are for type I diabetes recipients.

Recent findings

Graft survival continues to improve, and recent multicenter studies show that islet transplantation is particularly effective to prevent hypoglycemic events even in those who do not become insulin-independent and to achieve excellent glycemic control. Concerns include histocompatability leucocyte antigen (HLA) sensitization and other risks including from immunosuppression that islet transplantation shares with other forms of allotransplantation.

Summary

Reversal of hypoglycemia unawareness and protection from severe hypoglycemia events are two of the main benefits of islet transplantation and they persist for the duration of graft function. Islet transplantation compares favorably with other therapies for those with hypoglycemia unawareness, although new technologies have not been tested head-to-head with transplantation. HLA sensitization increases with time after transplantation especially if immunosuppression is ceased and is a risk for those who may require future transplantation as well as being associated with loss of graft function.

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