Current status of islet cell transplantation

J Hepatobiliary Pancreat Surg. 2009;16(2):101-12. doi: 10.1007/s00534-008-0021-2. Epub 2008 Dec 26.


Despite substantial advances in islet isolation methods and immunosuppressive protocol, pancreatic islet cell transplantation remains an experimental procedure currently limited to the most severe cases of type 1 diabetes mellitus. The objectives of this treatment are to prevent severe hypoglycemic episodes in patients with hypoglycemia unawareness and to achieve a more physiological metabolic control. Insulin independence and long term-graft function with improvement of quality of life have been obtained in several international islet transplant centers. However, experimental trials of islet transplantation clearly highlighted several obstacles that remain to be overcome before the procedure could be proposed to a much larger patient population. This review provides a brief historical perspective of islet transplantation, islet isolation techniques, the transplant procedure, immunosuppressive therapy, and outlines current challenges and future directions in clinical islet transplantation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / therapy*
  • Graft Survival
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppression Therapy / methods
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Islets of Langerhans Transplantation / methods*
  • Islets of Langerhans Transplantation / trends
  • Tissue and Organ Procurement
  • Transplantation, Homologous


  • Insulin