, Volume 11, Issue 5, pp 355-363
Date: 12 Jul 2011

Impact of Islet Transplantation on Diabetes Complications and Quality of Life

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Abstract

Insulin represents a life-saving therapy for patients with type 1 diabetes but, despite appropriate treatment, it prevents only partially long-term diabetic complications, while generating fatal hypoglycemic episodes. Islet transplantation gained attention because of its safety, effectiveness, and minimal invasiveness; however it remains a procedure reserved for a selected group of patients. The introduction of the Edmonton Protocol in 2000, based on a newly designed steroid-free immunosuppressive protocol, revamped the course of islet transplantation. The main goal of islet transplantation remains insulin independence, although the effect of islet transplantation can be more comprehensively evaluated in terms of frequency of hypoglycemic episodes and impact on diabetic complications and quality of life. Islet transplantation was shown to have positive consequences on cardiovascular, renal, neurologic, and ocular diabetic complications. The proof of concept for cellular replacement therapy in diabetes has been established with islet transplantation, it only needs to be improved and rendered widely available.