Islet autoantibodies as potential markers for disease recurrence in clinical islet transplantation

Exp Clin Endocrinol Diabetes. 2000;108(5):328-33. doi: 10.1055/s-2000-8125.


At present, indications for clinical islet transplantation exist almost exclusively in type-1 diabetic patients with end-stage renal disease receiving the islets either simultaneously with or after an already established kidney graft. This implies, that islet transplantation is performed in type-1 diabetic patients with long disease duration. The fate of the islet allograft is determined by a combination of immunological effector mechanisms. Beside early non-specific inflammation and alloreactivity, chronic autoimmunity may contribute to islet graft failure. The immunologic characterization of the prediabetic state has considerably progressed, whereas, the nature of autoimmunity years and decades after the onset of diabetes is largely unknown. Islet autoantibodies as surrogate markers for islet autoimmunity are well established in prediabetic periods of type-1 diabetes. In contrast, only few data exists in the setting of long-term type-1 diabetic patients undergoing islet transplantation. This article reviews the original data from the Giessen islet transplantation project and the pertinent literature with respect to islet autoimmunity and disease recurrence. It is demonstrated, that autoimmunity may persist in an individual with type-1 diabetes for decades after diabetes onset and that autoimmune responses to transplanted islets are resistant to the immunosuppressive drugs currently used. It is suggested from pilot trials, that type-1 diabetic patients with persistent autoantibodies and individuals, in whom autoantibodies become detectable after the transplantation are at higher risk for early islet graft failure potentially due to recurrent autoreactivity directed to the islet graft.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Autoantibodies / analysis*
  • Biomarkers
  • Diabetes Mellitus / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Islets of Langerhans / immunology*
  • Islets of Langerhans Transplantation*
  • Recurrence


  • Autoantibodies
  • Biomarkers