Disseminated Periportal Fatty Degeneration After Allogeneic Intraportal Islet Transplantation in a Patient With Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus: A Case Report

Transplant Proc. 2004 May;36(4):1111-6. doi: 10.1016/j.transproceed.2004.04.047.


Insulin independence after islet transplantation has been significantly improved by using new steroid-free immunosuppressive protocols and increased islet mass. Only little is known about the influence on the morphology of the liver of intraportally transplanted islets. We describe a case of disseminated periportal fatty degeneration after allogeneic intraportal islet transplantation (ITx). A 35-year-old patient with type-1 diabetes mellitus who was suffering from repeated severe hypoglycemic episodes received two sequential intraportal islet grafts. Liver structure was normal before the first ITx, based upon ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). One week after the first ITx, ultrasound demonstrated normal liver morphology. Four months later, at the second ITx, we detected small, disseminated, and hypodense hepatic lesions (1 to 3 mm) by ultrasound, which were confirmed by MRI and interpreted to be fatty degenerations. Histologically we found focal drop-shaped fatty degenerations with signs of mild periportal chronic inflammation. These liver alterations without clinical symptoms or pathological liver function tests matched the predicted distribution of infused islets. Glucose metabolism markedly improved after the first ITx, namely 58.6% reduction of daily insulin requirements, 1.4% decrease in HbA1c, basal C-peptide of 0.8 to 1.3 ng/dl with no severe hypoglycemia. We interpreted these benign changes in liver morphology as reactions to a local hyperinsulinemia in the neighborhood of the transplanted islets. We hypothesized that a steroid-free immunosuppression with rapamycin and tacrolimus may have contributed to changes in the portal microenvironment.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / surgery*
  • Fatty Liver / etiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Islets of Langerhans Transplantation / methods*
  • Portal System*
  • Transplantation, Homologous


  • Blood Glucose