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J Am Soc Nephrol. 2003 Aug;14(8):2150-8.

Islet transplantation is associated with improvement of renal function among uremic patients with type I diabetes mellitus and kidney transplants.

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  • 1Departments of Medicine and Surgery, San Raffaele Scientific Institute, Milan, Italy.


The potential effects of islet transplantation on the renal function of 36 patients with type I diabetes mellitus and kidney transplants were studied with 4 yr of follow-up monitoring. Kidney-islet recipients were divided into two groups, i.e., patients with successful islet transplants (SI-K group) (n = 24, fasting C-peptide levels of >0.5 ng/ml for >1 yr) and patients with unsuccessful islet transplants (UI-K group) (n = 12, fasting C-peptide levels of <0.5 ng/ml). Kidney graft survival rates and function, urinary albumin excretion rates, and sodium handling were compared. Na(+)/K(+)-ATPase activity in protocol kidney biopsies and in red blood cells was cross-sectionally analyzed. The SI-K group demonstrated better kidney graft survival rates (100, 83, and 83% at 1, 4, and 7 yr, respectively) than did the UI-K group (83, 72, and 51% at 1, 4, and 7 yr, respectively; P = 0.02). The SI-K group demonstrated reductions in exogenous insulin requirements and higher C-peptide levels, compared with the UI-K group, whereas GFR values were similar. Microalbuminuria (urinary albumin index) increased significantly in the UI-K group only (UI-K, from 92.0 +/- 64.9 to 183.8 +/- 83.8, P = 0.05; SI-K, from 108.5 +/- 53.6 to 85.0 +/- 39.0, NS). In the SI-K group, but not in the UI-K group, natriuresis decreased at 2 and 4 yr (P < 0.01). The SI-K group demonstrated greater Na(+)/K(+)-ATPase immunoreactivity in renal tubular cells (P = 0.05) and higher activity in red blood cells (P = 0.03), compared with the UI-K group. The Na(+)/K(+)-ATPase activity in red blood cells was positively correlated with circulating C-peptide levels but not with glycated hemoglobin levels. Successful islet transplantation was associated with improvements in kidney graft survival rates and function among uremic patients with type I diabetes mellitus and kidney grafts.

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