Defining kidney allograft benefit from successful pancreas transplant: separating fact from fiction

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Abstract

Purpose of review

To define the natural history of kidney allograft loss related to recurrent diabetes following transplant, and to understand the potential benefit of pancreas transplantation upon kidney allograft survival.

Recent findings

A postulated benefit of simultaneous pancreas kidney transplant is that, unlike kidney transplant alone, euglycemia from the added pancreas allograft may confer a nephroprotective benefit and prevent recurrent diabetic nephropathy in the renal allograft. Recent large database analyses and long-term histological assessments have been published that assist in quantifying the problem of recurrent diabetic nephropathy and answering the question of the potential benefits of euglycemia. Further data may be extrapolated from larger single-center series that follow the prognosis of early posttransplant diabetes mellitus as another barometer of risk from diabetic nephropathy and graft loss.

Summary

Recurrent diabetic nephropathy following kidney transplant is a relatively rare, late occurrence and its clinical significance is significantly diminished by the competing risks of death and chronic alloimmune injury. Although there are hints of a protective effect upon kidney graft survival with pancreas transplant, these improvements are small and may take decades to appreciate. Clinical decision-making regarding pancreas transplant solely based upon nephroprotective effects of the kidney allograft should be avoided.

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