Background: Already there is evidence that simultaneous pancreas and kidney (SPK), or pancreas after kidney (PAK) transplantation, in patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus and end-stage kidney disease prevents worsening of diabetic polyneuropathy, but neuropathic improvement is delayed and incomplete.
Methods: In 85 patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus who underwent SPK or PAK transplantations, we performed sequential neuromuscular evaluations before, every 3 months after, and yearly after transplantation, quantitating muscle weakness separately from overall severity of polyneuropathy.
Results: We found that, on average, the weakness subscore of the Neuropathy Impairment Score of the lower limbs [NIS(LL)-W] was significantly worse at 3, 6, 9, and 12 months (by about 5 points) than at baseline. By contrast, for these times after transplantation, a composite score of nerve conduction abnormalities, an independent measure of severity of polyneuropathy, was not significantly worse and, in fact, was significantly improved. In multivariate analysis, length of hospital stay correlated with the increased weakness.
Conclusions: We conclude that: (1) increased neuromuscular impairment after transplantation is mainly due to muscle weakness and not to worsening polyneuropathy; (2) in multivariate analysis, duration of hospitalization after transplantation was significantly associated with this increased weakness; (3) increased weakness is probably due to development of myopathy, which may be related to graft rejection, immunosuppression, sepsis, and intercurrent infections; (4) in future transplantation trials, weakness should be evaluated separately from neuropathic status, and the lowest efficacious dosages of immunotherapy should be used; and (5) essentially all diabetic patients reported that SPK or PAK transplantation was worthwhile because it freed them from diabetic lifestyle concerns.