Transplant strategies for type 1 diabetes: whole pancreas, islet and porcine beta cell therapies

Melena D. Bellin, Ty B. Dunn

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Whole-organ pancreas and islet transplantations are performed in a highly selected group of patients with diabetes mellitus, primarily those with type 1 diabetes mellitus, complicated by recurrent severe hypoglycaemia or renal failure requiring kidney transplantation. Clinical accessibility to pancreases or islets, and patient characteristics and therapeutic goals, may dictate choice of procedure. Pancreas transplantation is most often performed simultaneous with a kidney transplant, but patients with particularly labile type 1 diabetes may be considered for a pancreas transplant alone. While highly successful at restoring insulin independence, pancreas transplants carry the significant risks of major surgery and immunosuppression. Islet transplantation is a relatively minor procedure, usually performed for labile type 1 diabetes with severe hypoglycaemia. It is highly successful at resolving hypoglycaemia, but more than one pancreas donor may be required for insulin independence. Both pancreas and islet transplantation are limited in applicability by a paucity of deceased donors. Pigs provide one promising replenishable source of islets. Porcine islets can successfully reverse diabetes mellitus in non-human primates under the appropriate immunosuppressive conditions, with promise for eventually translating this success to a larger population of patients with diabetes mellitus in the future. Graphical abstract.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2049-2056
Number of pages8
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature.


  • Diabetes
  • Hypoglycaemia
  • Immunosuppression
  • Islet
  • Kidney
  • Pancreas
  • Transplant
  • Type 1 diabetes

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Journal Article


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