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Authors Wisel SA, Gardner JM, Roll GR, Harbell J, Freise CE, Feng S, Kang SM, Hirose R, Kaufman DB, Posselt AM, Stock PG
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Journal Am. J. Transplant. Volume: 17 Issue: 9 Pages: 2444-2450
Publish Date 2017 Sep
PubMed ID 28489277
PMC ID 5573612

Islet transplantation offers a minimally invasive approach for β cell replacement in diabetic patients with hypoglycemic unawareness. Attempts at insulin independence may require multiple islet reinfusions from distinct donors, increasing the risk of allogeneic sensitization. Currently, solid organ pancreas transplant is the only remaining surgical option following failed islet transplantation in the United States; however, the immunologic impact of repeated exposure to donor antigens on subsequent pancreas transplantation is unclear. We describe a case series of seven patients undergoing solid organ pancreas transplant following islet graft failure with long-term follow-up of pancreatic graft survival and renal function. Despite highly variable panel reactive antibody levels prior to pancreas transplant (mean 27 ± 35%), all seven patients achieved stable and durable insulin independence with a mean follow-up of 6.7 years. Mean hemoglobin A1c values improved significantly from postislet, prepancreas levels (mean 8.1 ± 1.5%) to postpancreas levels (mean 5.3 ± 0.1%; p = 0.0022). Three patients experienced acute rejection episodes that were successfully managed with thymoglobulin and methylprednisolone, and none of these preuremic type 1 diabetic recipients developed stage 4 or 5 chronic kidney disease postoperatively. These results support pancreas-after-islet transplantation with aggressive immunosuppression and protocol biopsies as a viable strategy to restore insulin independence after islet graft failure.

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