The effect of pancreatic islet transplantation on experimental diabetic neuropathy

J Neurol Sci. 1991 Oct;105(2):168-74. doi: 10.1016/0022-510x(91)90141-s.


Quantitative light and electronmicroscopical morphometric techniques were used to determine the effect of pancreatic islet transplantation on experimental diabetic neuropathy. Groups of STZ-diabetic rats were given islet transplants at 3 weeks after diabetes onset (prevention) and at 6 months after diabetes onset (reversal). Comparisons were made with onset controls, age-matched non-diabetic controls and untreated diabetic controls 6 months later (n = 8 for all groups). Euglycaemia and normal levels of glycosylated haemoglobin were achieved in both groups of diabetics after islet transplantation. Loss of body weight in diabetic animals was prevented by early islet transplantation, but was only partially reversed following delayed islet transplantation. Normal growth of myelinated fibres and axons during development was retarded in untreated diabetics, but was normal in rats given islet transplants soon after the onset of diabetes (cross-sectional perimeter and area). Diabetics transplanted with islets after a delay had myelinated fibres and axons with diminished calibre. Teased fibre preparations of nerves from diabetics which had received islet transplants showed no excess of abnormalities. This study has shown that the development of certain structural abnormalities of peripheral nerve fibres is prevented in diabetic rats which receive transplants of islets of Langerhans soon after the onset of diabetes. However, once established abnormal fibre morphology can not be completely ameliorated merely by achieving and sustaining euglycaemia through delayed islet transplantation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / ultrastructure
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Body Weight
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / physiopathology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / surgery*
  • Diabetic Neuropathies / physiopathology*
  • Islets of Langerhans Transplantation / physiology*
  • Male
  • Nerve Fibers, Myelinated / ultrastructure
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Lew
  • Tibial Nerve / pathology
  • Tibial Nerve / physiopathology*


  • Blood Glucose