Islet transplantation in genetically determined diabetes

Ann Surg. 1977 Oct;186(4):401-10. doi: 10.1097/00000658-197710000-00001.


Hyperglycemia induced in animals by beta cell toxins or by pancreatectomy can be reversed by pancreatic islet transplantation. Abnormal carbohydrate metabolism in juvenile onset human diabetics has also been corrected, albeit temporarily because of graft rejection, by pancreatic transplantation. It does not necessarily follow that naturally occurring diabetes in animals or adult onset diabetes in man would respond to similar treatment. Islet transplantation was studied in mice with chemically induced or genetically determined diabetes. Streptozotocin-induced diabetic mice were permanently cured by syngeneic islets and, when immunosuppressed, were rendered normoglycemic for six weeks after receiving xenogeneic rat islets. In contrast, histocompatible islets from normoglycemic coisogenic donors were ineffective in hyperglycemic db/db recipients as were xenogeneic rat islets in immunosuppressed db/db hosts. However, when islets were isolated from db/db donors and transplated to genetically normal coisogenic mice, which had been rendered hyperglycemic with streptozotocin, they became normoglycemic. Apparently the metabolic defect in the db/db mice, which is similar in some ways to human maturity onset diabetes, does not reside in their islets as these cells can function normally if transplanted to genetically nondiabetic hosts. In two other types of genetic diabetes (ob/ob and NZO) islet transplantation was more effective. Pancreatic transplantation is unlikely to be the proper treatment for all types of diabetes even if technical and immunological problems are overcome.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / genetics
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / surgery*
  • Fasting
  • Glucose Tolerance Test
  • Hyperglycemia / blood
  • Insulin / blood
  • Islets of Langerhans Transplantation*
  • Liver Transplantation
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Obese
  • Rats
  • Streptozocin
  • Transplantation, Heterologous
  • Transplantation, Isogeneic


  • Blood Glucose
  • Insulin
  • Streptozocin