Type-1 Diabetes is generally treated with exogenous insulin administration. Despite treatment, a very common long term consequence of diabetes is the development of a disabling and painful peripheral neuropathy. The transplantation of pancreatic islets is an advanced alternative therapeutic approach, but its clinical application is still very limited, mainly because of the great number of islets required to complete the procedure and of their short-term survival. An intriguing method to improve the performance of pancreatic islets transplantation is the co-transplantation of Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs), adult stem cells already known to support the survival of different cellular populations.
In this proof-of-concept study, we demonstrated using an in vivo model of diabetes, the ability of allogenic MSCs to reduce the number of pancreatic islets necessary to achieve glycemic control in diabetic rats, and overall their positive effect on diabetic neuropathy, with the reduction of all the neuropathic signs showed after disease induction.
The cutback of the pancreatic islet number required to control glycemia and the regression of the painful neuropathy make MSC co-transplantation a very promising tool to improve the clinical feasibility of pancreatic islet transplantation for diabetes treatment.