Pancreas Transplantation Improves Vascular Disease in Patients With Type 1 Diabetes

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Pancreas transplantation (PTX) normalizes glucose and improves microvascular complications, but its impact on macrovascular disease is still debated.


Carotid intima-media thickness (IMT), shown to correlate with cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk and events, was determined prospectively by ultrasonography in successful pancreas transplant recipients to evaluate the effect of PTX on CVD risk. Carotid IMT and CVD risk factors of pancreas transplant recipients (n = 25) were compared with three groups: individuals with type 1 diabetes without significant nephropathy (n = 20), nondiabetic kidney transplant recipients (n = 16), and normal control subjects (n = 32). Mean age of pancreas transplant recipients at the time of transplantation was 42.4 ± 1.2 years (mean ± SE) and duration of diabetes was 25.9 ± 1.4 years.


After PTX, HbA1c level (P < 0.0001) decreased to normal and, whereas creatinine level (P = 0.0002) decreased, it remained elevated compared with normal control subjects (P < 0.05). Blood pressure, BMI, fasting lipid levels, smoking frequency, and use of hypolipidemic agents were unchanged. Mean carotid IMT was increased in pancreas transplant candidates but decreased by 1.8 ± 0.1 year after PTX (P = 0.0068), no longer different from that in normal control subjects or patients with type 1 diabetes.


Carotid IMT improves after successful PTX within 2 years of the procedure, with normalization of HbA1c and improved renal function, independent of changes in lipid levels, BMI, blood pressure, smoking, or use of hypolipidemic agents. This study suggests that CVD risk, future events, and mortality should improve after PTX in the absence of other significant, untreated CVD risk factors.

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