Background: An asymptomatic, self-limited transaminitis uniformly follows pancreatic islet transplantation (PIT) performed through portal vein (PV) infusion. The underlying cause and significance of this transaminitis is unclear.
Study design: Records of all patients with insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus who had undergone PIT at our institution were reviewed. All PITs were performed in conjunction with a remote pancreatic islet isolation center and done through percutaneous transhepatic PV infusion. Alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels, serum glucose concentrations, insulin requirements, and color-flow Doppler ultrasonography examinations of the right upper quadrant were assessed before and after PIT.
Results: Eleven patients have undergone a total of 26 PITs. An elevated ALT level occurred in all 11 patients (100%) after the first PIT, with the median post-PIT peak ALT level reaching 187 IU/L. Transaminitis was less frequent and less marked after the second PIT. A negative correlation between viability of the pancreatic islets transplanted (r = -0.44, p = 0.03) and a positive correlation between the ratio of maximum to initial PV pressure (r = 0.41, p = 0.04) were seen with the subsequent ALT peak. Color-flow Doppler ultrasonography examinations showed no occurrences of PV thrombosis or intrahepatic hematoma. Finally, the degree of transaminitis did not correlate with post-PIT insulin requirements, indicating that post-PIT transaminitis cannot be used to measure allograft rejection or function.
Conclusions: Transaminitis after PIT is common and self-limited. Post-PIT transaminitis does not signal acute rejection or serious procedure-related complications such as PV thrombosis or intrahepatic hematoma.