Challenges facing islet transplantation for the treatment of type 1 diabetes mellitus

J Clin Invest. 2004 Oct;114(7):877-83. doi: 10.1172/JCI23235.


Islet transplantation represents a most impressive recent advance in the search for a type 1 diabetes mellitus cure. While several hundred patients have achieved at least temporary insulin independence after receiving the islet "mini-organs" (containing insulin-producing beta cells), very few patients remain insulin independent beyond 4 years after transplantation. In this review, we describe historic as well as technical details about the procedure and provide insight into clinical and basic research efforts to overcome existing hurdles for this promising therapy.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / metabolism
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / therapy*
  • Graft Survival
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / adverse effects
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Islets of Langerhans Transplantation*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Blood Glucose
  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Insulin